Venture Portland presented its revamped 2011-2012 Grants Program to a packed room of local business district representatives, highlighting three grant opportunities for business districts.

“It’s great to see so many neighborhood business leaders participating in Venture Portland’s grant program,” said Alison Stoll, Venture Portland’s Grants Committee Chair and Executive Director for Central Northeast Neighbors. “I cannot wait to support the exciting economic development projects business districts are considering for this year’s grant cycle.”

This year Venture Portland added two additional funding options to its grants portfolio – Economic Development Grants and Emerging District Start-up Support Grants.

Annual Economic Development Grants allow business districts to request a larger amount of money to be used over an entire year to accomplish meaningful economic development. Emerging District Start-up Grants offer funds to groups that have not established themselves as official business districts, but have identified interest in their business corridor.

While the organization’s Benchmark Grants will continue funding business district’s tactical efforts semiannually, the introduction of Economic Development and Emerging District Start-up Grants allow Venture Portland the opportunity to better assist diverse business districts and ultimately grow Portland’s economy.

“Many of Portland’s street fairs and unique projects are made possible in part by Venture Portland grant funds,” said Justin Zeulner, Venture Portland’s Board President and Director of Sustainability and Planning for the Rose Quarter/Portland Trail Blazers. “It is wonderful to see how these grant funds directly impact Portland and its business community.”

During the previous 15 years Venture Portland granted nearly $1 million to fund 295 business district projects. These funds leveraged almost $3 million in private investment in neighborhood business districts. Last year the organization awarded $80,000 to fund 39 business district projects, leveraging an additional $150,000; seventy-five percent of funding went to start-up efforts.