Business Bits


Portland small businesses step into the spotlight in May

In Portland, 98% of the 19,200 small businesses in the city have five employees or less and provide a total of 270,000 jobs. In addition to contributing more than $100 million in taxes each year, Portland’s local small businesses donate to local organizations and causes at twice the rate of national chains.

That’s why Venture Portland, a nonprofit that supports neighborhood small business districts throught the city, is expanding National Small Business Week, which runs from April 29 through May 5,into a local campaign encouraging people to support the city’s small businesses throughout the entire month of May.

Small businesses are invited to contact Venture Portland to obtain “Portland Celebrates Small” signs to place in their storefront windows. Small businesses and the shoppers supporting them will be able to upload photos of the business to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and keep up to date with “Celebrate Small” news on those social media platforms.

For more information or to obtain window signs, visit Venture Portland’s “Celebrate Small” website page: tinyurl. com/7tyuct42

Sustainable Fashion Forum returns for another year

The Sustainable Fashion conference will return for a fifth year in April.

Although this year’s conference with be virtual instead of in-person, the event will feature the enlightening keynote speakers, informative workshops and solid networking opportunities that have become a hallmark of the forum.

The Sustainable Fashion Forum started as a passion project for Brittany Sierra. A graduate of Portland State University, Sierra worked as the social media manager for Portland Fashion Week from 2014-2015, and is the founder of Crash Course, which offers DIY crash courses in design marketing, branding and public relations. She created The Sustainable Fashion Forum in 2017 after noticing a lack of events, conversations and interactions between sustainable fashion advocates and leaders in the fashion industry. The platform has since grown into a global community and its annual conference draws participation from leading fashion and apparel companies dedicated to promoting sustainability, including Adidas, Nordstrom, Athleta, Vogue, Prana and Fashion Revolution.

This year’s forum will run from April 20-24. Tickets are $149. For more information and registration, visit The Sustainable Fashion Forum website:

Oregon Worker Relief Fund offers small businesses grants

Since April of last year, Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OWRF) through its Quarantine Fund distributed more than $40 million to 25,000 undocumented workers in Oregon whose legal status prevented them from accessing federal COVID-19 emergency aid.

Now, armed with an additional $10 million in funding, OWRF is turning its focus on providing grants to micro and small businesses owned by individuals whose undocumented status made them ineligible for federal emergency Covid-19 relief programs such as the Payroll Protection Program.

In order to qualify for a grant through the new fund, businesses must be for-profit operations in Oregon and must be at least partially owned by someone who files taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or similar identification. Businesses also must have experienced a drop in revenue due to Covid-19 since February 1 of last year, must be active, and must plan to remain operational going forward.

Businesses that meet all criteria will be eligible for a onetime grant ranging from $7,000 to $25,000.

For more information about applying for a micro or small business grant, call 1-888-274-7292.

Venture Portland is encouraging shoppers to celebrate National Small Business Week by supporting the city’s small business throughout the entire month of May. COURTESY: VENTURE PORTLAND

SCORE offers free business resources for Black entrepreneurs

SCORE, a national network of 10,000 experienced business volunteers, has created a new online hub with specialized business resources and on-demand content designed specifically for Black entrepreneurs.

The site, SCORE for Black Entrepreneurs, was created after SCORE conducted a survey of diverse small business owners across the country to find out how they had been impacted by the pandemic. The survey found that Black small business owners were twice more likely than white small business owners to not have banking relationships with traditional banks. Black business owners also were at a disadvantage when it came to receiving federal emergency relief, with white-owned businesses three times more likely to get Payroll Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster loans than black-owned businesses.

The results led SCORE to create the new platform. In addition to offering resources and content, the site provides Black entrepreneurs and business owners with opportunities to connect with free SCORE mentors, relationships that will be maintained for as long as the business owners desire support.

For more information, visit the SCORE for Black Entrepreneurs website:

Create the Future Design Contest opens to submissions

Are you an entrepreneur with an idea for a new product or technology that would benefit society or the economy? If so, you could win the top $25,000 prize in the 2021 Create the Future Design Contest, which is now accepting submissions.

Organizers of the contest bill it as the world’s premier engineering design competition. Since the competition began 19 years ago, more than 15,000 ideas for products from entrepreneurs, engineers and students in more than 100 countries have been submitted.

“The Create the Future Design Contest offers an excellent way for innovators to introduce new products and technology on the worldwide market,” Bernt Nilsson, senior vice president of marketing for contest sponsor COMSOL Inc., said in a press release.

Both individuals and teams are eligible to participate. Entry is free and ideas can be entered in one of seven categories: aerospace and defense, automotive/transportation, consumer product design, electronics/sensors/Internet of Things, manufacturing/robotics/automation, medical, and sustainable technologies/future energy.

An independent panel of industry professionals will judge the entries and select winners. Website visitors also will be invited to vote for their favorite entries. For more information, visit the Create the Future Design Contest website: