PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Financial support is on the way for many small business owners in East Multnomah County as the state distributes its remaining CARES Act dollars.

The federal deadline for distribution of Oregon’s remaining $55 million CARES Act funds is December 30. Multnomah County has received $7.6 million of that money and is dedicating $5.3 million of it to businesses like restaurants and food carts. The remaining $2.7 million will be distributed in $2,500 chunks by the Portland Business Alliance Charitable Institute to other small businesses, with preference to those in East Multnomah County.

Troutdale Mayor-elect Randy Lauer encouraged small business owners in the area to apply online for a grant as soon as possible.

“The good thing about this East Multnomah County relief fund is that the framework isn’t first-come, first-serve,” he said. “The goal is for us to give as much of these funds into small business owners hands as possible.”

Businesses most affected by the recent COVID-19 restrictions will be prioritized.

To be eligible, businesses must be located in the cities of Fairview, Gresham, Troutdale, Wood Village or surrounding areas of unincorporated East Multnomah County. Qualifying businesses must not have a 2019 tax revenue that exceeds $2 million and must have a registered license for 2020.

An advisory committee will conduct the selection process based on a per capita metric.

Apply for East Multnomah County small business grants

Lauer, who is a small business owner himself, said that while $2,500 won’t begin to cover the cost of revenue lost since the start of the pandemic, it will help establish a base from which to grow in the coming months.

“Every little bit helps and if we can get a little bit of this money into everybody’s hands, the better off our business community will be out in East County,” he said.

Travis Stovall, the mayor-elect of Gresham, echoed that sentiment, saying the grant money can help “bridge a gap” as businesses fight to outlast the pandemic. Local leaders are particularly concerned about reaching small business owners in the BIPOC community, as well as those who have struck out in their previous attempts to seek financial help.

“There is a priority set by the Portland Business Alliance to help women-owned business and businesses owned by people of color,” said Lauer. “But there is also a priority to get this money into business owners’ hands that have not…been able to receive any other grant money from any other avenue.”

RedFred in Gresham is one such business. It’s a video and photography production house that also sells handcrafted items created by local community members. Co-owner Jessica Clark told KOIN 6 News they were led to believe in the past that they qualified for financial help, only to find out they were ineligible. Clark said they were relieved this week to learn they could finally file for a grant.

“The process was actually easy, we literally went step by step,” she explained. “It told us if we would be eligible or not. Small questions like how has this impacted your business, have you lost this much income. Super easy to fill out and I was pleasantly surprised.”

For Clark, an extra $2,500 would allow them to make back-payments on rent.

“We have a large building space we’ve been trying to make payments but of course when you are working to literally pay your building operational costs and not feed your family, it’s difficult,” she said. “$2,500 isn’t that much but it can help us stay here.”

Stovall said they are committed to doing all they can for small businesses to keep the owners afloat and to keep their employees in jobs.

“We are going to get through this — let’s support each other as we continue to face these challenges — but we will get through it,” he said.

Applications opened Thursday and are due by 8 p.m. on Monday, December 14. Selected applicants will be notified on December 30 and funds will be distributed by March 31, 2021.

For more information on how to apply, visit the Portland Business Alliance website.