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City rolls out job creation program

If a Portland business is looking for some financial backing to expand or even start up, the city may be a place for them to turn.
The city's economic development division announced yesterday it's going to begin accepting applications for the new business assistance program that was launched as a part of Portland's recent push for development. The grant program would allow either existing or new businesses up to $20,000 to support their efforts to create jobs in Portland.
"We think this is a nice opportunity for businesses looking to expand or looking to start up," said Nelle Hanig, business program manager for the city's economic development division. "We think this is a valuable program to support Portland businesses."
The grant program is being funded thought Portland's allotment of Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Hanig said the grants will go toward companies that are looking to get started and need an investment or existing businesses that need some additional money to fund an expansion project or to buy new equipment. She said any project that's pitched to the city must show that it will result in job creation.
Showing what improvements will be made is important, said Hanig, because the grant money can't be used toward a salary to hire an employee.
"That's not what we're looking for," she said.
The applicant process is lengthy, said Hanig, and designed to give the city a full picture of what a company has done or wants to do. She said the applicants asks companies to supply financial statements, projected financial statements and descriptions about how the grants would create jobs.
The city created several criteria that will give applicants higher priority, according to a press release:
• Applicants should provide on-the-job training for new hires that teaches a new skill.
• Locate in a housing and community development-eligible neighborhood.
• Have a private match that's greater than the grant amount being sought.
• The number of jobs created will exceed the basis requirement of one full-time position.
• Creates quality jobs.
• The applicant is financially stable.
Hanig said the city wants to make sure that the money will really be used for job creation and wants to be assured of that.
"That's what the grants are for," she said.
The grant program has $85,000 that will be awarded to businesses, said Hanig. She said applicants are eligible for up to $20,000 though the rule is one job must be created for each $10,000 awarded to a business.
Hanig said given the limited amount of money available for the program, it would mean that eight businesses get $10,000 or four get $20,000. She said that depends on what types of applications come in.
Hanig said the grant program will run until all the money is gone.
"We're going to do what we can to assist given the money that we have," she said.
Mayor Michael Brennan said the grant program is specifically designed to spur job creation. He said the money will be awarded to companies that show they can create jobs through purchasing new equipment, expanding a business or starting a new one.
"That's what the program's for," he said.
The grant program is the city's way to further economic development and job creation in the city one job at a time, Brennan said.
"We're very hopeful and optimistic about the program going forward," he said.

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