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Business Oregon
Nathan Buehler
Marketing Mgr
Email; 503-689-3559

March 26, 2020 Media Contact
Nathan Buehler 503-689-3559

First Wave of Support from Business Oregon for Business and Communities in the Wake of COVID-19

This week, Business Oregon and the Oregon Growth Board announced a series of efforts to assist businesses and communities impacted by COVID-19. Business Oregon is working under the direction of Governor Kate Brown to provide support to Oregon businesses in the wake of the current economic crisis stemming from the coronavirus health crisis. Business Oregon is also participating in the Governor's Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council, to deliver a coordinated response.

This is an immensely difficult time for businesses and employees across the state, and the state's economic development agency has taken steps to reallocate personnel and resources to respond to the crisis.

"It's 'all hands on deck' for us as we deploy the tools and services we have available to help the businesses and employees that have seen their livelihoods upended by the coronavirus crisis," said Business Oregon interim director Chris Cummings. "Across our agency we are working solutions for the immediate short term needs of today, and the longer term recovery tomorrow."

Today the Oregon Growth Board approved two concepts in a special board meeting. First, the board approved Business Oregon's request to forgive existing loans to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). This will strengthen the CDFIs' financial position and ability to continue small business lending. The outstanding balance was approximately $585,000.

Second, the board approved the request to commit the remaining funds currently available in the Oregon Growth Fund to a new Oregon Community Foundation fund, the "Small Business Stabilization Fund." This fund will include capital from additional sources to leverage and deploy to intermediary organizations around the state to get money in the hands of small businesses impacted by the current disaster. The Oregon Growth Fund is a capital source for smaller and often newer investment vehicles in Oregon. The amount committed from the fund to the Oregon Community Foundation fund is approximately $700,000.

"We realize that Oregon small businesses need immediate help to survive this economic crisis in the wake of COVID-19," said Sabrina Parsons, Oregon Growth Board co-chair. "Given the funds available to the Oregon Growth Board we chose to take action by immediately supporting some of the organizations that are on the front lines and that will be deploying capital to Oregon small businesses."

Business Oregon has taken additional steps with its existing small business loan customers. For its direct loan programs (Oregon Business Development Fund, Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund, and Oregon Royalty Fund) the agency is letting all loan holders know that they can do quick (1-2 day turnaround) 90-day modifications that defer payments and interest. As a result borrowers won't have to pay anything for 90 days and won't accrue interest or fees.

Business Oregon's loan guarantee and loan loss reserve programs (Credit Enhancement Fund and Capital Access Program) work with private lenders to make subsequent loans to small businesses. For these programs, the agency is offering to provide modifications and deferrals up to 90 days when requested by the lender.

The agency has also allocated staff to work with Oregon Emergency Management on hand sanitizer and Personal Protective Equipment production projects, matching supply needs with suppliers. These projects represent a great collaboration of about 130 businesses throughout Oregon, from sewing to distilleries, manufacturers, contractors, hotels, and others.

Small businesses should also be aware that the federal Small Business Administration approved Oregon's request for a disaster declaration, making Oregon businesses eligible for favorable loans under the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Business Oregon is working diligently to assess and deploy agency resources as best it can in ways that corresponds to the urgent and evolving needs of Oregon businesses, while maintaining a commitment to statutory and fiduciary obligations. Business Oregon has been working with its partners throughout the state to gather up resources available and keeps web content updated daily on a dedicated webpage.

For businesses with specific questions, we have a team monitoring a special email address.

Complete, up-to-date information on the health crisis and a complete list of resources, as well as information on the Governor's Coronavirus Response Council is also available on the Governor's website.

Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, invests in Oregon businesses, communities, and people to promote a globally competitive, diverse, and inclusive economy. The agency's services span rural community development and infrastructure financing; business retention, expansion and recruitment; export promotion and international trade; investments in industry research and development and entrepreneurship; small business assistance; and support for arts and cultural organizations.