Hospitality industry needs targeted relief in Oregon

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By Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association,

Formal Request Submitted by ORLA for a Dedicated State Relief Fund for Hospitality

In Monday’s blog post we referenced the importance of additional relief funds to further support Oregon’s struggling hospitality industry. Yesterday we formally submitted our request for a dedicated relief fund on top of funds received by hospitality operators to date managed by counties, Travel Oregon, and Business Oregon. The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board is scheduled to meet January 8 and you can read our formal request below:

Dear Co-Chairs Courtney, Kotek, and Members of the Legislative Emergency Board,

The hospitality industry in Oregon continues to reel from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and we greatly appreciate Governor Brown’s call for additional state relief for our industry as a part of recent press conferences.

Federal programs as well as state programs have seen unparalleled popularity as small business operators work hard to keep their livelihoods intact. Due to the size and scope of the pandemic, thousands of small businesses across Oregon have needed the assistance provided through these programs. The unintended consequence however is the lack of proportionality between funds received and business losses realized in specific industry sectors.

In recent data published by the Small Business Administration, total first round Paycheck Protection Program loans under $150,000 disbursed in Oregon totaled $1,986,932,849. Of that total, funds disbursed in Oregon to hotels and restaurants was $201,351,430 or roughly 10% even though Oregon Employment Department data estimates our industry accounts for approximately 50% of all job losses. The latest available economic data shared with ORLA by way of an analysis by ECONorthwest showed Oregon’s hospitality industry behind last year’s revenue numbers by 30%. The average decline for all other industries is approximately 5% when compared to last year –a staggering difference.

On the state front, our last round of Emergency Small Business Grants administered back in November by Business Oregon resulted in 1,279 applications with the online application system shutting down in 20 minutes according to the Governor’s Office. The separate $55 million in grant funds transferred to counties for disbursement to small businesses was also greatly appreciated but included varying rules for business eligibility county by county.

We remain a staunch advocate for the creation of a dedicated, state administered emergency small business grant fund for accommodation, food service, and bowling alley operators who have been hardest hit by the unique nature of this crisis.

Together we can help hundreds of small businesses cover a monthly rent payment and keep some critical staff employed as we work to distribute vaccines across the state. Please join us in being a champion for a dedicated $75 million grant fund administered by the state for Oregon’s hospitality industry.