Oregon Worker Relief Fund to distribute $10 million to immigrant-owned small businesses

A state fund set up last year to help workers from immigrant communities will distribute $10 million to immigrant-owned small businesses across Oregon.

Organizers of the Oregon Worker Relief Fund announced Thursday that they had established a new program, the Oregon Small Enterprise Fund, to support small business owners who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but have been unable to secure aid through federal programs.

The Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board allocated $46 million in January to set up the new fund and provide ongoing support to the Oregon Worker Relief Fund.

Qualifying small business owners can receive grants between $7,000 and $25,000 through the new program.

To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a decline in revenue due to the pandemic, be actively operating in Oregon and be at least partially owned by someone who uses an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or equivalent to file their taxes. The Internal Revenue Service issues those numbers to people who don’t have Social Security numbers.

Businesses that received funds from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program will not be eligible for the state-backed grants.

The new fund will be integrated into the existing Oregon Worker Relief Fund program, which organizers hope will enable them to use existing community partnerships to reach smaller businesses that might not otherwise hear about the fund.

Business can apply by calling 1-888-274-7292. More information will be available at a virtual community forum Saturday. People can RSVP for the event by visiting the Alivio Laboral de Oregon Facebook page.

“We know that we’re the organizations our community turns to in times of need,” said Isa Peña, interim executive director of Causa of Oregon, which sponsors the Oregon Worker Relief Fund. “This new fund provides an opportunity for our community to be served by people they trust.”

The Oregon Worker Relief Fund and a separate fund run by the group to support immigrants who have had to quarantine due to COVID-19 has distributed over $40 million since last April to over 25,000 Oregonians who were otherwise unable to access federal aid due to their immigration status.

Jamie Goldberg | jgoldberg@oregonian.com | @jamiebgoldberg