News Release|


The City of Portland’s Here for Portland campaign — of which Worksystems is a founding member — will distribute up to 3,000 free Kuto app gift cards at the upcoming Pioneer Square tree lighting ceremony, which kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. The gift cards are each worth $50 at participating businesses in the downtown core, the Northwest business district, and the Central Eastside industrial area. Click here for participating businesses. This incentive has been ongoing, with the first $50 Kuto app credit launched in May 2022. 

“Portland’s local small businesses are integral to our economy and deserve our ongoing support as they 
navigate through the uncertain economy post-pandemic,” said Mayor Wheeler. “This initiative will help 
the community support Portland’s small local businesses through intentional shopping and dining as we 
move into the holiday season.” 
Here for Portland (HFP) is a unique public/private/nonprofit partnership designed to help Portland’s 
local small businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Central to this initiative is an effort to 
get Portlanders out of their homes and spending money with local businesses, particularly those 
owned by women and people from historically underserved communities.  
Kuto — a local, BIPOC-owned business – is a smartphone app that enables shoppers and diners to pay 
for goods and services without the many fees associated with traditional electronic transactions. 
Funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the $50 Kuto cards to be distributed at the 
tree-lighting can be used through Sunday, Dec. 11 at participating downtown small businesses.  

“We’re thrilled to be a part of Here for Portland’s innovative campaign to revitalize Portland’s 
neighborhood commercial districts,” said Kuto co-founder Kiyo Kubo.

In concert with the gift card campaign, HFP is working to place Portland State University students in 
paying jobs with businesses in the downtown area. Eligible students can register with HFP to work for 
up to 40 hours per week with participating businesses for a total of 300 hours, after which each 
business has the option to hire them on an ongoing basis. Upon completing their 300 hours of 
employment, student workers are eligible for a $1,000 bonus, whether they’re hired permanently or 
not. Interested students can connect with an HFP representative by e-mailing or visiting   

“These restaurant and retail businesses cooperated with social distancing guidelines that protected our 
community and did so at great cost to their own bottom lines,” said Patrick Gihring of Worksystems, 
Portland’s workforce investment board and one of HFP’s partner organizations. “We’re honored to be a 
part of this initiative to promote intentional shopping and dining to support their recovery.” 

HFP is supported by funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, and is a collaboration between the City 
of Portland, Kuto, Bricks Need Mortar, Prosper Portland, Portland State University, Portland 
Community College, and Worksystems.  

Learn more about HFP at, and more about Kuto at 

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