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City of Gresham launches small business emergency grant program and technical assistance team

March 20, 2020

The City of Gresham is launching an emergency assistance program on March 20 to offer temporary relief to local restaurants and other establishments that provide food to the public. This new grant program offers one-time grants to these businesses in response to the unprecedented level of hardship they face due to the state order prohibiting seated dining.

Even under normal circumstance, small business enterprises face significant volatility. They also contribute to our vibrancy, our sense of community, and our collective identity and pride,” said Mayor Shane Bemis. “While we address the current public health crisis as a first order of concern, we also must prepare for the rebuild, and, without substantial intervention like this, our small businesses won’t be here when that time comes.”

The Gresham Small Business Emergency Grant program will open for online applications on March 24 at 10 am on The program provides one-time grants of $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000 per business, and is available on a first-come, first-serve basis to qualifying Gresham business owners with a physical storefront within Gresham City limits. A total of $400,000 is available through this program. Business owners receiving grant approval should expect payment approximately 7-10 days after application submittal.

Criteria for grant eligibility includes:

  • Business owners who own or operate a restaurant, bar or other establishment that offers food and beverages for sale, and are restricted to carry out and delivery only with no on-site dining permitted, in response to COVID-19 orders established by the Oregon Governor’s office.
  • At least 30% of the grant must go towards payment of lease rent. Grants can also be used for other capital operating expenses such as lease payments, utilities, payroll and essential supplies.
  • The grant must preserve at least one job.
  • A current City of Gresham business license is required.
  • Business owners of multiple Gresham businesses are limited to one grant.
  • Independently owned, local franchises with an existing drive-through service capability qualify; national franchises are not eligible.
  • Corporate or franchise restaurants with more than three existing locations do not qualify unless that business is primarily owned by a Gresham resident(s).
  • Businesses with current or pending OLCC infractions do not qualify.
  • Businesses with outstanding City related liens or fees are not eligible to receive a grant.

This grant program is only the first step in comprehensive economic recovery efforts being considered by the City. Nearly all businesses face the prospect of economic losses; this grant program allows for some immediate, emergency relief for those businesses facing mandatory changes in their operating model.

In addition to the grant program, an ad-hoc group of City of Gresham professionals have been temporarily reassigned to serve on a Small Business Technical Assistance Team. This team is available to help small businesses navigate the maze of new and existing state and federal resources and programs available to assist them through this difficult period. City of Gresham staff will help serve as caseworkers for small businesses, hearing and understanding their specific needs, researching and recommending programs, and assisting with preparation of forms and application materials. Businesses interested in accessing these services can email Joe Walsh at or call 503-618-2372.

While we are doing everything in our power to marshal every local resource available to aid our residents and businesses, we recognize that the scope of need is even greater. We will continue to advocate for state and federal assistance to our residents, businesses, and local governments to navigate our current challenge to the best possible outcome,” Bemis said.

The City’s Emergency Operations Center remains activated, while City Hall is closed to the public; City leadership continues to conduct core business and ensure that essential services are operational for the safety of the public. Regular updates to the community will be available on as well as the City’s social media channels.