News Release|

As the pandemic winds down and Portland moves toward its new normal, thousands of employees who’ve been teleworking over the past two years are now returning downtown. The City is kicking off National Small Business Week by leveraging the spending power of these downtown workers to be here for Portland’s small businesses. 

As workers return to their downtown workplaces, 5,000 will receive a $50 Kuto app gift card to make local purchases at businesses owned by low-income entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color. The Kuto app gift cards will be distributed at public events – for a list of upcoming events and a directory of participating businesses, please visit

Developed out of partnerships and planning from the Portland Action Tables – a group of more than 200 community members dedicated to championing Portland’s future – Downtown Workers Are Here for Portland is a new initiative developed by the City of Portland, Worksystems, Prosper Portland, Business for a Better Portland, Portland State University, Bricks Need Mortar, Downtown Clean & Safe, and Kuto App to promote intentional shopping, dining and working among downtown employees as they return downtown to work, shop and dine.

The initiative will connect returning downtown workers with restaurants and retail businesses who have been struggling since the widespread move to telework two years ago. Restaurant and retail businesses have been the sector most impacted by revenue losses and closures during the pandemic and are vital to the attractiveness and vibrancy of the city. BIPOC owned businesses, low-income entrepreneurs, food carts, and business impacted by vandalism and break-ins have been most impacted and are being prioritized for support.

“This is a win-win incentive for Portland’s workforce as they return to their offices downtown and an exciting campaign to kickoff Small Business Week. These dollars and customer relationships will make a difference to shops and restaurants that have been hardest hit during the pandemic,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “I want to extend a warm welcome to those returning downtown for work. Your presence is critical to the revitalization of the city.”

This initiative will deploy federal funding along with funds passed by City Council in the spring budget adjustment earlier this month, providing $250,000 and 5,000 shoppers to support struggling downtown restaurants and retailers.

Kuto App credits can be used for making purchases from participating businesses as well as for tipping frontline workers. And unlike the grants deployed to sustain small businesses amidst the shutdowns at the onset of the pandemic, this initiative will provide struggling small businesses with both revenue and customers who are returning to work downtown and can become regular patrons. 100 participating downtown restaurant and retail businesses will receive an average of $2,500 in revenue from an average of 100 new patrons through this initiative.

Kuto App is a BIPOC-owned, Portland-based payments solution created to keep money within the community by reducing fees and facilitating safe, simple payments. As a community centered payments solution, Kuto partners with communities to address food insecurity, incentivize giving, and promote local spending.

Following the Downtown Workers Are Here for Portland, this effort will expand to support other Portland business districts including a May 7th event at the Portland Mercado in the Foster-Powell business district to conclude National Small Business Week.

For more information about Downtown Workers Are Here for Portland, a schedule of events, and a directory of participating businesses please visit

About Portland Action Tables

Portland collaborates to achieve its goals. That’s why the City of Portland is convening five “action tables” to respond to Portland’s challenges. The people who join these tables will work together to identify and implement strategic solutions.

The City is particularly interested in ensuring people and organizations who are too often unheard or underserved have a place at the action tables, which are being built on a foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

About Worksystems

Worksystems, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that pursues and invests resources to improve the quality of the workforce in the City of Portland, Multnomah and Washington Counties. It develops policies and design workforce development programs and services delivered through a network of local partners to help people get the skills, training and education they need to go to work or to advance in their careers. Partners include employers, labor groups, government, community colleges, high schools, community-based and economic development organizations.

About Kuto

Kuto is a Portland-based payments solution created to keep money within the community by reducing fees and facilitating safe, simple payments. Kuto provides businesses with dozens of tools and services – starting with payments and extending to gift cards, loyalty, menu hosting, promotions and more – all designed to grow businesses while offering consumers with the easiest, safest, fastest way to pay. And as a community centered payments solution, Kuto partners with communities to address food insecurity, incentivize giving, and promote local spending. 

About Prosper Portland

Prosper Portland is the economic and urban development agency for the city of Portland. It focuses on building an equitable economy by carrying out a comprehensive range of economic development programs that support small business, improve access to workforce training, and create jobs for Portland residents. It works with partners to drive public attention and resources to different areas of the city, which helps Portland realize capital projects – parks, streetscape improvements, community centers – that would not happen on their own, making it a better place to live for all Portlanders.

About Bricks Need Mortar

Bricks Need Mortar provides visibility, advocacy, connection, guidance and resources to independent, brick-and-mortar, small businesses to build a more thriving, vibrant and diverse community. Small Shops Big Hearts, formerly PDXSOS, is a directory of over 800 small businesses and a program of Bricks Need Mortar.

About Business for a Better Portland

Business for a Better Portland forges collaborative relationships with the business community, non-profit organizations, and government. It believes that members can make a difference by collaborating for systemic change to address our city’s greatest challenges, generate shared prosperity, and advance social justice and equity.

About Downtown Clean & Safe

The Downtown Portland Clean & Safe District provides extraordinary essential services to the people, places and businesses within a core 213-block area of our unique city. Operating since 1988, the district is one of the oldest, largest and most successful enhanced service districts in the nation. 

About the Central Eastside Industrial Council

Founded in 1980, The Central Eastside Industrial Council is a non-profit 501c(6) organization dedicated to building better businesses and more inclusive economies through advocacy, district enhancement, and transportation initiatives. The District spans 681-acres and is home to 1,300 businesses and over 22,000 employees. An emerging international hotspot for significant innovation, sustainable industries, and entrepreneurship, it is also one of the most unique districts in the country, offering manufacturing jobs in the city core while encouraging a diversity of other users

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