Call for Survival – Live Events Business Grant Program Ask

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May 19, 2021

Joint Committee on Ways & Means

 Oregon State Capitol

900 Court Street NE Salem, OR 97301

Senator Johnson, Senator Steiner Hayward, Representative Rayfield and Committee  members,

On behalf of the Tigard Chamber of Commerce and our members through the south metro region, thank you for the opportunity to submit a letter of support for the Shuttered Events Business grant proposal.

Following the leadership of the Live Events Industry of Oregon (LEIO), we are fully supportive of their proposal to appropriate American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to create a grant program to aid struggling event businesses. While we are appreciative of the federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, a large segment of the industry was unable to take advantage of the program due to the requirement for a physical venue space.   We only found 1 member in our almost 300 member businesses that met the qualifications of that targeted program even though we have many members with venues or that are businesses that generate a significant portion of their business from live events.

We learned first-hand the far reaching impact of the pandemic on the Live Events Industry when LEIO participated as a sector panelist during our State of Business Forum in March 2021.  The economic devastation to this sector is unparalleled. They have been and continue to be the slowest sector to recover due to our restrictive limitations on gatherings and events.  The metro area has been particularly hard hit given our population density and risk classifications. As just one example, we have caterers that have seen a 90% reduction in business during the pandemic! 

The south metro region of which Tigard is a part, hosts numerous events and attractions for both community and visitors alike.  Examples include the Tigard Festival of Balloons, the Downtown Tigard Street Fair, local city Community Awards Galas or Galas/Events held by our non-profits or attractions like iFly.  Not only are the events this industry produces a vital part of what makes our community unique, but they provide significant downstream economic benefits from sub-contractors and vendors as well as the associated spending.

Thus we support the proposal offered by Representatives Nosse and Lively to create a one- time grant program that can benefit the entire event industry.

The proposal laid out by LEIO is well thought out and prepared to maximize the investment for all sectors of the event industry. In a snapshot it includes:

  • Well-defined eligible businesses, including General Events Industry Business Sectors such as Event Planning and Production, Audio-Visual, Lighting, and Staging Providers, Special Event Operators, and Amateur Sporting Event Operators among others. The list of eligible business would also include vertical market events such as concerts, sporting events, theatre, art and music events etc.
  • Focus on small business with a cap of 150 employees or less
  • Rolling application periods to support the hardest hit businesses, including priority access for entities with a 75% or larger drop in revenue from prior year; followed by 50% drop in revenue and so on.
  • Specific allowable uses for grant funding, such as payroll costs, rent or other commercial building expenses, utilities, ordinary operating costs, existing business asset loan payments, and PPE.

The proposal is for an allocation of one-time ARPA funds of $108M in order to provide the broad reaching support to these struggling small business and sole proprietors across our state. While this is a significant amount of funding, the one-time nature of a grant program is exactly what these federal funds are intended to accomplish.

We appreciate your consideration of this important request for our community, and understand that this request is just one among many you will receive.  Thank you for the opportunity to highlight this key need in our community and for this sector.

Best Regards,

Debi Mollahan CEO

Tigard Chamber of Commerce

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