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☕ Save Portland coffee, save the economy
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☕ Save Portland coffee, save the economy

Forgive the glare, but here's the message from Pizzeria Otto: We need your help.
(📸: Ben DeJarnette)

What Portland is talking about

It’s been nearly three weeks since Congress approved $349 billion in bailout money for small businesses that are feeling the crunch.

But now that money is gone — and many local businesses say they’re not expecting to see a single penny from it.

How can that be? Let’s start with the definition of small business.

You’re probably thinking of your neighborhood coffeeshop and its two employees, but the stimulus bill actually allows companies with as many as 500 employees to get a slice of the pie.

That wouldn’t be a problem if the pie were big enough to help all the companies that need it.

But that wasn’t the case. Instead, companies were forced to compete with each other to get their applications submitted and approved before money ran out.

And you can probably guess who won. It was the companies with lawyers, CFOs, existing banking relationships, and the ability to navigate a complex bureaucracy in a matter of days, not to mention a little luck.

Translation: Not your local coffeeshop.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. Here are three reasons to be optimistic — and to get on the phone (or email) to demand action:

1. Congress is reportedly close to reaching a deal that would direct billions more dollars to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.

2. The Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board is expected to meet this month to dole out $30-50 million in emergency aid.

  • Who to call: The members of the Emergency Board, especially if any of them are your representatives.
  • What to ask for: Immediate support for the most vulnerable businesses in our state, as well as technical assistance to help them access the next wave of federal funding.

3. Oregon is likely to receive about $2.5 billion from the feds to support our coronavirus response, including about $114 million that will go directly to the City of Portland.

  • Who to call: Elected officials at the state and local levels.
  • What to ask for: A transparent plan for when and how that money will be used to support small businesses and their workers.

Want to learn more? Read this letter to Governor Brown that’s been co-signed by more than 30 community and business groups across the state, and follow Business for a Better Portland to get the latest updates.

In other news…

Don’t call this a prediction, but researchers from the University of Washington think Oregon could be ready to ease its stay-at-home order by May 25. Two big caveats: The UW data models have a mixed record, and the late-May timeline assumes that Oregon will develop “a strategy to test, track and isolate coronavirus carriers” by then, which could happen sooner — or later. (OregonLive)

It’s not just stoners who are getting high for 4/20. The pollen count in Portland is also higher than it’s been all spring, and while we desperately want to make a joke about getting high on grass, it sounds like tree pollen is actually what’s making things bad right now. (Willamette Week)

Oregon’s unemployment website is still causing headaches, and payments are often taking weeks to arrive as the state tries to dig itself out from a backlog of new claims. The state’s main advice: Keep submitting a claim every week that you’re unemployed, even if the website is glitchy and even if your first check still hasn’t arrived. (OPB)

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Help spread the local love

Stimulus payments finally started to arrive last week, and we’re determined to help keep that money here in our community (and far away from Amazon).

So we came up with a list of 14 ways to spend your stimulus money locally, from ordering a new board game to buying produce from local farms.

Spoiler alert: Idea #14 is to become a Bridgeliner member, which is a little self-serving. But we think the work we do cutting through the chaos and making sense of what’s happening in our city is worth it, and we hope you’ll agree. 💖

The countdown to Earth Day is on. What's your pledge?

Today’s how-to

Earth Day is only two days away, and our friends at Ecochallenge encourage you to change your daily habits to help out our Earth.

The good news: Many of you have probably accomplished one eco-challenge already: scheduling virtual meetings to cut down on commuting and reduce your carbon footprint.

What’s next? Here are a few of the other challenges they suggest taking on this month and beyond:

  • Reduce food waste by composting
  • Keep plastic out our oceans by using a reusable water bottle
  • Advocate for forest protection

Want to go even further? You can still join the official Earth Day Ecochallenge online — and also don’t forget to share your Earth Day pledge by hanging it in your window.

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Events

Things to do

Today

🙋 Test your "Harry Potter" trivia knowledge (Online)

📹 Learn how to make cool short-form videos (Online)

⛲ Watch a City Council candidate forum on parks (Online)

Tomorrow

🏠 Join PDX Women in Tech to talk about working from home (Online)

❓ Ask your marketing questions to a local expert (Online)

🏙️ Hear a talk about urban climate science (Online)

Wednesday

🌎 Play Earth Day trivia with OMSI (Online)

♻️ Take a pledge to be better to the planet (Multiple locations) (Partner)

One more thing...

We might not get to watch college or professional sports for a while, but this profile of the Oregon Duck mascot is a small consolation prize, especially if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be the person inside the Duck suit.

That’s all for now. We’ll see you tomorrow.

–  Bridgeliner

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