Portland REALTORS® Provide Support for Their Community During COVID-19
Portland’s unique local businesses and restaurants are an integral part of what makes the area special. Residents are known for going above and beyond to support local businesses with events like the annual Caffeine Crawl. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has hit the estimated 158,000 Oregonians working in the food and beverage industry hard, leaving many employees without an income.
When local brokers at Hasson Company REALTORS® were approached with an opportunity to give their community a boost, they happily tapped into their network to provide support for both the foodservice industry and their local health care workers.
Lynne Brokaw, an agent at Hasson Co., told Lake Oswego Review that she was approached by local restaurateur Ramsey Zawideh with an idea: “He wanted to keep his workers paid and cared for, and thought we could arrange to get meals to those who need them. We put together a team at Hasson Company to deliver meals to area hospitals.”
Colleagues at Hasson Co. established a GoFundMe page that raised $5,000 in just over a day. As of May 18th, they’ve raised more than $19,000 and have expanded their mission from solely serving the local medical workers and first responders, to also assisting other financially vulnerable groups in the Portland Metro area.
Baja Fresh in Lake Oswego, Sunny’s Diner in Happy Valley, Picasso Pizza in North Portland, Golden Corral in Vancouver, and Bentley’s Bagels in Northwest Portland are among the restaurants aiding in the initial phase of this fundraiser.
The federal government has recognized the struggles of local restaurants, many of which meet the definition of small businesses (businesses with fewer than 500 employees or startups who have been operating for a year or less), and has addressed the financial woes many are facing due to reduced income caused by mandated closings of non-essential businesses.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed on March 27, 2020, and includes the Paycheck Protection Program. This portion of the CARES Act is implemented by the Small Business Association and is supported by the Department of the Treasury. Qualifying small businesses can receive up to eight weeks of payroll costs to be used for interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
The Paycheck Protection Program has been criticized for the restrictions it places on how small businesses are allowed to use the funds. A recent New York Times article states, “One of the biggest stumbling blocks is a requirement that businesses allocate 75 percent of the loan money to cover payroll costs, with only 25 percent allowed for rent, utilities and other overhead.” While the federal assistance is allowing many small businesses to keep their employees, for local restaurants and stores to carry on, they’ll need support from their community as well.
Vibrant downtowns draw in tourism, attract young homebuyers, and give a town its character. Small businesses have long been a part of creating successful city centers. There’s a reason “buying local” has gained so much traction during COVID-19. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, “The multiplier results from the fact that independent locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses (or locally-owned franchises). In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs.”
Stephen Green, board member for Built Oregon, an advocacy group for maker businesses around the state, urged consumers back in March to “go into businesses, go online, find a way to purchase future products from a company. Every little bit helps.”
With that thought in mind, Hasson brokers have brought $4-$5 per meal to the restaurants they’ve partnered with for each meal they’ve bought for local medical staff and front line workers. This project is a part of a larger movement to support those who are out of work and Portland’s frontline workers who are working harder than ever. The REALTORS® are contributing time, money, and exciting ideas in an effort to remind Portland “We’re all in this together”.