Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grant For Portland-Area Startups
Merchant Maverick started its Opportunity Grant Program in 2021 to give back to the small business community after tumultuous lockdowns and business closures caused by the Covid pandemic.
In its inaugural year, Merchant Maverick awarded four grants to Black female entrepreneurs. In 2022, the program gave out ten grants to AAPI-owned restaurants. The small businesses that received the Opportunity Grants represented multiple industries, including private investigation firms, dance studios, and numerous restaurants, cafes, and food trucks across the country.
This year, the grant program will shift its focus again. We are excited and pleased to announce that the first Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grant in 2023 will go to a small business startup in Portland-Metro, Oregon.
Applications opened on March 15, 2023.
The application window has been extended: Grants will now close on May 12, 2023, and the winner will be announced on May 15.
Merchant Maverick Grant Announced For 2023
The application window for the 2023 Portland-Metro Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grant is now closed.
Why Portland and its suburbs? (The grant is open to small business owners in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill, and Clark counties.)
The Greater Portland area is a thriving small business hub. In the state of Oregon, 99.4% of businesses were categorized as small and employed 893,758 people; a majority are in the Portland-Metro area. But the last few years have been hard on businesses, with more small business closing than opening, according to the SBA’s Oregon Small Business Profile.
There are many reasons that Portland-area businesses are struggling. One reason is an increase in the tax rate.
A 2022 Oregon Business and Industry report about Oregon’s small business tax burden says, “Since 2019, Oregon’s total effective state and local tax rate (based on taxes as a percentage of private-sector gross state product) has risen from 4.2% to 5.4%, an increase of almost 29% when combining state and local taxes. This places Oregon not only well above the national average for combined business tax burden, but also above neighboring states California, Idaho, and Washington.”
Another reason Portland needs a small business boost is the difficulty hiring there.
Oregon ranks number two for states with small businesses struggling to hire. The same report places Portland in the top ten for metro areas with hiring difficulties. Business Tribune says, “59.7% of small businesses in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro area reported they are actively hiring and struggling to find workers.”
Some small business battles in the Portland area include increased cost of living, hiring hardships, and expanded tax rates. These are on top of small businesses’ consistent challenges, like funding complications, supply chain issues, and 40-year high inflation rates.
But the news isn’t all bad.
Client Giant’s study places Portland in the 9th in the best places to start a business, citing Oregon’s lack of a sales tax as a huge small business incentive.
A healthy small business environment is critical to the state’s overall health, and the City of Roses and its neighbors are known for a thriving and unique business landscape. With recent challenges to the city of Portland, Merchant Maverick wants to give back to a place where small business is its backbone. We want to reverse the trend of a net decline and see more small businesses succeed.
$10K Grant To Portland-Metro Area Businesses
This spring, one small business startup in the greater Portland-Metro area will receive a $10,000 Opportunity Grant to grow its business.
To be eligible, a business must:
- Have been in operation for five years or fewer
- Be located in Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington Counties in the state of Oregon or in Clark county in the state of Washington
We actively encourage applications from members of groups experiencing barriers to equity.
We are looking for small businesses with a story to tell, a passion for their city and neighborhood, and a solid understanding of how they would spend the money. Read up on the best tips for writing grant applications before getting started so that you can truly showcase your unique business.
Applications open on March 15th, 2023, at which time the application will be available on this page.