The City of Portland just announced that it will be offering limited funding grants to minority owned businesses that were negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and other economic stresses during calendar years 2020 and 2021. Cannabis businesses in Oregon have faced a range of economic challenges both related and unrelated to the Covid-19 pandemic, including vandalism and theft. Surging demand for cannabis products during the early phases of the pandemic lockdown orders and designation of cannabis retailers as an essential service were instrumental in tempering the strain that the pandemic had on Cannabis retailers. Cannabis businesses fared reasonably well as compared to other hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants, where on-site consumption is a key aspect of the consumer experience. Cannabis dispensaries may now offer delivery, and curbside pickup; two common sense steps that were direct result of a reasonable public health pandemic response to meet the needs of consumers and retailers and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on cannabis businesses.
In another progressive step, the City of Portland has authorized funding grants to cannabis businesses and individuals that either hold a City of Portland Cannabis License or qualify as an ancillary business. The program titled “Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) applies to businesses and workers impacted by adverse events not limited only to the Covid-19 pandemic. These grants also apply to businesses impacted by vandalism, crime, and the 2020 wildfires. These grants offer up to $25,000 for small sized licensed Cannabis businesses within Portland city limits, and up to $5,000 to cannabis industry workers. These grants can cover stresses from the residual effects of illness, and even “trauma and grief suffered from such impacts.” Small businesses holding not more than three licenses in common by the ownership of the applicant individual or entity, and whose combined revenue of the licenses does not exceed $3.0 million dollars in the application year are eligible to apply for these grants. Businesses can apply for grants for damages occurring either in the 2020 or 2021 calendar year. The grants are available only to businesses that hold 51% or greater ownership by racial minorities, women, or veterans of the US military.
Eligible ancillary businesses are those that can demonstrate that 80% or more of their revenue is generated from providing services to the cannabis industry. Businesses operating under or partnered with an OLCC licensed cannabis business through any type of agreement, including but not limited to licensing and/or co-packing agreements where 80% of their revenue is derived from a cannabis business holding a Portland and OLCC marijuana license are also eligible to apply.
Eligibility requirements are listed here. Applications are first come first served and processed on a rolling basis. Applications can be found here and submitted any of the following three organizations:
NuLeaf Project at: www.nuproject.org
The Initiative at: www.intheinitiative.com
Oregon Cannabis Association at: www.orcannabisassociation.org