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PORTLAND-The Portland Development Commission this week approved the creation of a new incentive program it hopes will encourage investment in the city’s urban renewal areas and allow the region to better compete for jobs in an increasingly competitive market.

The so-called Economic Opportunity Fund is designed to be a flexible amount that addresses the needs of companies that are expanding or relocating within eight urban renewal areas: Downtown/Waterfront, Airport Way, South Park Blocks, Oregon Convention Center, Central Eastside, Lents Town Center, Interstate Corridor, and Gateway Regional Center. The Economic Opportunity Fund is also designed to recognize factors beyond just investment. Initial incentive amounts can be boosted via a number of variables, including whether the company is a small business, removing blight, establishing a headquarters or locating in a distressed area. Intended uses of the incentive funds include a wide variety of expenditures, ranging from infrastructure needs (such as sewer or water extensions), to permit fees, tenant improvements and site acquisition.

In addition to the new fund, the PDC Board also approved revisions to the Quality Jobs Program. In a significant change to the original program, the revised formula provides larger loan amounts for higher wage jobs. The program makes loans based on average wage levels and job density, as well as investment in buildings and equipment. The Economic Opportunity Fund can be used in conjunction with the Quality Jobs Program for a combined award of $750,000.

“Participants in the development of the city’s new Economic Development Strategy told us we needed new aggressive tools to help stimulate job growth in the region,” said PDC Executive Director Don Mazziotti. “These programs have been created in response to that feedback and are aimed at both large and small businesses.”

Specific information about both the Quality Jobs Program and the new Economic Opportunity Fund is available through PDC’s Business Finance Office, (503) 823-3321, or by visiting www.pdc.us/business.

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