The City of Tualatin has found itself this fall in the strange position of having trouble giving away no-strings-attached aid money to local residents and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since last spring the City has directed roughly $1.2 million in federal funding to locally owned businesses and parents with school-age children. These programs also set aside money for future use. But despite handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to local small businesses and residents for business recovery, city officials still have just under $100,000 left for that purpose.
City Economic Development Manager Jonathan Taylor told the council at its Nov. 23 meeting that Tualatin is unique in still having money from the federal Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act left to distribute.
“We are the only city that is in this position to help our local small businesses because of how we planned and distributed those funds since March,” Taylor said.
Since that time, the City has directed $808,000 toward small business relief by combining City and State funds with federal CARES money. The resulting Tualatin Economic Stabilization Fund Program has provided grants to qualifying businesses through its Business Rental Assistance Program and the Business Oregon Small Business Fund.
As of Nov. 23, however, around $95,000 remained available to Tualatin-based small businesses. This money must be spent by Dec. 31.
As a result, Councilors directed City staff to not only make the $95,000 in business grants available to small businesses impacted by the pandemic, but also to expand an existing childcare scholarship program to people who work in Tualatin but who are not residents. Previously the latter program was limited to those living in the city. It remains open because the $250,000 approved by the City in August for this purpose has gone largely unspent. As of Nov. 23, just 11 children were benefiting from that assistance.
When it comes to business grants, even businesses that have already received City assistance are still eligible for further funding. This includes, restaurants, service and retail establishments, elective health care providers and more.
“If we can get the word out, businesses have a chance for this money,” Mayor Frank Bubenik said. “I heard a lot about the Business Oregon window closing in 17 minutes. A lot of folks didn’t realize they couldn’t qualify until the last second, but this is a lot easier. We need to get the word out this money is here. If you got this money before, you can come back again.”
The City’s business aid has come in three rounds since March and has resulted in 102 local businesses receiving assistance. The average grant has been $7,500, Taylor said, with the largest amount distributed being $20,000 and the smallest $884.
31 percent of grant recipients have been restaurants, with another 27 percent of grants given to service sector business like nail salons or recreation providers. 14 percent of businesses receiving aid are elective health care providers such as dentists or physical therapists. Eight percent are retail businesses, and two percent are motels.
For more information, please visit tualatinoregon.gov/economicdevelopment.