Federal reduction cash pulled away, hurting Portland companies

There weren’t enough grant funds to cover all applicants, so the Small Business Administration prioritized companies run by women, minorities, and veterans.

PORTLAND, Oregon – Although Oregon companies are now allowed to fully reopen, many are still working to recover from the huge financial blow they suffered during the pandemic. Some restaurants and bars have even received government support that was promised to them.

Elise Schumock, owner of the Rose City Book Pub in northeast Portland, said she received more than $ 100,000 from the Restaurant Relief Fund to cover the losses her business suffered during the COVID-19 closings.

“It was enough money to save my business and it was incredible,” said Schumock.

Schumock was one of nearly 3,000 business owners across the country who have since seen the money go away.

“For anyone who owns a restaurant, the past year and a half have been really nightmarish,” she said. “The two worst two for me were the day I had to fire all of my staff because I learned I was being shut down and the moment this was taken away.”

Dan Yates, president of Portland Spirit, said his company – a sightseeing and dinner cruise company on the Willamette River – will receive $ 4 million from the grant.

“It would have allowed us to make investments in the company that we put on hold for nearly two years,” said Yates.

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There wasn’t enough money to cover all applicants, so the Small Business Administration prioritized companies run by women, minorities, and veterans.

“We’re a veteran-owned company so we were pretty sure we were in the first group to get funded, but I was very concerned that the entire program would be at risk as we’ve never had federal funding based on race, ”said Yates.

Some white business owners sued, saying the fund was discriminatory and the court ruled in their favor.

Funding was withdrawn from the prioritized companies and the fund ran out of money and was closed. Now restaurant owners are hoping that Congress will return and vote on a new source of funding to support those who have asked for help.

Until then, companies that have applied in Portland will do whatever they can to continue to serve the community.

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“The Rose City Book Pub is a very special place. He is there for everyone. The books are all for sale, we have 18 beers on tap, ”said Schumock.

“We have been in business for 27 years and will continue to do so. We’re here to make sure birthdays, anniversaries, and family celebrations can happen on the water when they choose, ”said Yates.

Yates said the company is having difficulty hiring in addition to Portland Spirit’s funding problem. He said although the cruise is allowed to be at full capacity, it can only have about a third of the passengers on board because of insufficient staff.