Wyden, Merkley: $120,000 Economic Development Grant to Aid Southern Oregon Businesses Recovering from 2020 Wildfires

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI) received a $120,000 grant to support businesses recovering from wildfire.

“In the wake of horrific wildfires in 2020, investments in Main Street small businesses are key to the economic recovery of our local communities,” Wyden said. “The Almeda fire devastated Southern Oregon, with nearly 2,800 homes and businesses completely destroyed. Oregonians lost everything: loved ones, homes and livelihoods. As we rebuild, this grant will provide critical support to the small businesses striving to recover from the blaze as well as the communities they serve.”

“Giving Oregonians a hand getting back on their feet after losing their business to a wildfire helps entire communities,” Merkley said. “I’m grateful we were able to help make sure this funding would head to Jackson County, where it will help streamline the process for business owners to receive the assistance they need to recover from past and present wildfires. I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that every available resource is allocated, and every needed piece of infrastructure is put in place, to protect Oregonians’ lives and livelihoods from the worst impacts of catastrophic wildfires.”

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) investment allows SOREDI to fund a Business Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Liaison to respond to post-disaster business needs in Jackson County. The Liaison’s job responsibilities would include outreach and needs assessment within the business community, as well as coordination with multiple other partners and agencies to respond and recover from wildfire disaster in Southern Oregon. The project will help strengthen and diversify the regional economy, saving existing jobs and creating new ones, all of which will increase resilience in the face of future disasters.

“SOREDI is grateful for this EDA support for our Disaster Liaison that enables us to be on the streets reaching out to businesses impacted by the wildfires of 2020,” SOREDI Executive Director Colleen Padilla said. “The SOREDI Board of Directors was proactive in approving the matching funds early on in full support allowing us to get started immediately with critical business development services. Businesses are hurting and we could not wait another day! Terrill Roper has been on staff since April 1 and great progress is being made to rebuild and revitalize businesses and lives in Phoenix, Talent, and parts of Jackson County.”