Small business grants go to Oregon restaurant owners

Portland chief says Representative Blumenauer’s legislation help is ‘breathtaking’

FILE (AP Photo / Steven Senne)

The Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group newspapers are a media partner of KOIN 6 News

PORTLAND, Oregon (Portland Tribune) – Han Ly Hwang is one of over 1,000 restaurateurs in Oregon who shared a total of $ 138 million from a small business administration program led by U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer and restaurateurs from the ‘Oregon.

He owns Kim Jong Grillin, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Southeast Portland.

He was among 960 Oregon homeowners – out of 38,000 nationwide – who secured first-round shares of the program totaling $ 6 billion. The SBA has received more than 300,000 requests for the $ 28.6 billion Congress has set aside for President Joe Biden’s pandemic stimulus package. The claims totaled $ 69 billion.

Yet after Blumenauer spent nearly a year crafting the program with the help of Portland restaurateurs – and barely 60 days after Biden signed the $ 1.9 trillion US bailout – Hwang secured assistance from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The average grant was $ 143,000.

“It is a complete game-changer. For someone like me, being a Korean American, this money gives me more of an opportunity to prioritize my culture and really share it through food, ”Hwang said on Monday (May 17th) during the a conference call sponsored by Blumenauer.

“It’s far from over, but the ease and fluidity of the transition (of Congress and the SBA) of this program from editorial to implementation is mind-boggling. Help means the world to us. It means we are not alone, and we really appreciate it.

Hwang said the application process with SBA took an average of 20 minutes.

Blumenauer officially offered the program in June 2020 at $ 120 billion. After a near failure with congressional pandemic legislation in December, he was able to secure $ 28.6 billion for the program in Biden’s recovery plan. The program accepted applications on a first come, first served basis, although amounts are reserved for women, veterans, and racial and ethnic minorities. National channels are excluded from participation.

“It’s a lifeline that will help them restore them and move forward,” Blumenauer said.

Blumenauer said he intends to seek more money with the help of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York who has joined the cause.

SBA had initial problems with other programs meant to help small businesses during the pandemic and the economic downturn that followed.

Some large businesses have benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program, created by Congress as part of the CARES Act last year, whose loans could be canceled if businesses complied with ever-changing requirements. Some companies, like the Los Angeles Lakers professional basketball team, have returned their money. Congress and the SBA attempted to correct the flaws in subsequent cycles of the program.

The opposite happened earlier this year with the first round of the Shuttered Venues program, aimed at helping entertainment venues. But the demand for the $ 16 billion was so great that it crashed the computer system, forcing the SBA to start over.

Blumenauer, on the eve of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund going live on May 3, said it was confident the SBA was ready to register owners and accept nominations.

“You being able to take on this new project, with the impressive number of applications received, I could not be more proud of what you and your team have done,” Blumenauer told SBA administrator Isabel Guzman.

Guzman, who was confirmed by the Senate for her post on March 16, said she was happy the first round of restaurant grants went smoothly.

“We want to make sure that the message that gets out is that the ASB is there to help you,” she said on the conference call. “The best thing we can do for small businesses is to help them get back to normal.”

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