PORTLAND, Ore. — Eleven Portland area businesses received grants from Prosper Portland, the city's economic development agency, in order to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Businesses have to apply for the grants and Prosper Portland said companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion are more competitive in the marketplace.
"Not only do we want businesses to grow in Portland, we also want them to attract diverse talent," said Sucheta Bal, program manager for Prosper Portland. "This is just a little bit of resource we can give them to spur on a program they otherwise might not take on."
Josh Liberles is the operations manager at Hifi Sound and Cycling Components. The company has been making performance bicycle wheels for the last nine years. The company recently received the Inspiring Diversity Grant which is worth $10,000.
The company decided to give their grant to BikePOC PNW, a nonprofit that creates opportunities for people of color to cycle.
"My niece, my business partner, many of my friends are people of color and they experience racism — so if there's something we can do to alleviate that, that's an amazing opportunity for me personally and for us as a business," Liberles said.
Will Cortez with BikePOC PNW said the organization was formed in January of 2021 and now there's over 300 people involved. The organization hosts rides for people of color so they feel more comfortable biking. They hope to expand their services with the money from this grant.
"We're going to use that for purchasing more bikes," Cortez said. "Doing some clinics for people to learn how to ride their bikes and some size inclusive clothing with BikePOC branding on it."
Prosper Portland said more than 80 businesses applied for the grant and they ended up picking 11.