Oregon to Receive $83.5 Million for Small Businesses From U.S. Treasury

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By Julia Shumway

Oregon will receive $83.5 million from the federal government to help small business owners, the U.S. Treasury and Gov. Kate Brown announced today.

The influx in federal funding comes from the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, a competitive program that provides seed money with the expectation that private investors will invest $10 for every $1 in federal spending. Colorado, Montana, and New York also received funds Friday.

Brown said during a press conference that Oregon will use the new federal money to “tackle systemic barriers to economic opportunity.”

Oregon plans to split its $83.5 million between innovative companies in their early stages and small local retail and manufacturing businesses that need help with start-up or expansion costs, Brown said. It includes two venture capital programs, according to a Treasury press release.

“What is most important is that these programs will focus on reducing economic wealth gaps, and that they also will be self-sustaining and revolving to continue to support our small businesses way into the future,” Brown said.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, said during the press conference that the new funding will “jumpstart” a new wave of entrepreneurship.

“Millennials and people across the country are starting small businesses and record numbers,” she said. “It’s exciting to hear their stories. Just yesterday, I sat down with the owners of a local small business who told me that the federal assistance they received during this pandemic kept their doors open and kept 58 people employed, and now they’re planning to expand and open another location.”

U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, also joined the event and said small businesses were hit hardest by the Covid pandemic. Federal assistance, including Paycheck Protection Program loans, helped many small businesses survive, he said, and now they’re ready to innovate.

The American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package passed early in President Joe Biden’s tenure, is the first economic stimulus package that Schrader said specifically targets underrepresented and tribal communities to ensure equitable access to aid.

“The job market is wide open, yet people are holding back waiting to figure out what they really want to do with their lives going forward,” Schrader said. “Small business entrepreneurship flourishes in that environment. We’re going to see a whole wave of people being able to access capital for the first time.”

Oregon, which is home to 15% of the nation’s semiconductor workforce, also anticipates benefitting from billions more in federal and private investing as a result of the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act that Biden signed earlier this month. On a state level, the Legislature approved a $200 million jobs bill this year to train women and racial and ethnic minorities in construction, health care and manufacturing.

This story first appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.