Cindy Gerkman prunes geranium planters outside of Ritter's Housemade Foods on May 12, 2020. Ritter's Housemade Foods reopened for business on Friday for take-out and delivery after being temporarily closed. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Small Salem businesses left out by other programs intended to provide help during the  COVID-19 pandemic had another chance to get help this week. And applications poured in despite several new requirements.

Willamette Workforce Partnership, a government-funded workforce development nonprofit, has made another $188,000 in grant funding available to local small businesses under a new program started by the city of Salem.

Dean Craig, business services director at Willamette Workforce Partnership, said close to 100 businesses applied ranging from dance studios to carpet cleaners. It’s intended to reach businesses that might have missed out on previous grants.  

The partnership is now certifying that applicants haven’t received other COVID-19 loans, are located in Salem city limits and are locally owned. Businesses will be selected randomly to distribute the city funds.

Craig said his organization hopes to process the applications by July 3.

Businesses with up to five full-time employees could apply for up to $3,000 and businesses with six to 40 employees could apply for up to $5,000. The money doesn’t have to be repaid.

Craig said the money is a bit of bridge meant to help keep businesses from laying off employees.

“It’s not earth-shattering, it’s not going to save their business,” he said.

Craig said previous grants that his nonprofit distributed allowed businesses to pivot their operations, like moving to online sales from physical locations.

He said businesses that weren’t able to get grant funding this time around should keep a close eye on the Willamette Workforce Partnership’s website because more grant money is coming.

Next month, the city is planning to make another $200,000 available for businesses with five or fewer employees using federal Community Development Block Grant funding. 

Have a tip or story idea? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.

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