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City Club online forum will address inequities, solutions as pandemic effects vary.

PMG FILE PHOTO BY JAIME VALDEZ - Orlando Williams of the Black American Chamber of Commerce, shown in a conference room off his office in Tigard, will be among the speakers Wednesday in a City Club of Portland online discussion.Leaders of BIPOC business groups on Wednesday, Feb. 3, will talk about potential reforms after a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately hammered racial and ethnic minorities.

The hour-long discussion hosted by City Club of Portland, part of a series called "State of the Possible," happens online starting at noon.

The pandemic has disproportionately hit BIPOC-owned businesses, according to several studies.

One study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last July concluded that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses in the United States shut down by April, as compared to 17 percent of White-owned businesses, 32 percent of Latinx-owned businesses and 26 percent of Asian-owned businesses.

Some aid programs have sought to address the problem. Last July Oregon lawmakers approved $62 million for the Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief and Resiliency.

But other programs have come under fire. A city of Portland audit released last September found that a contracting program intended to benefit minority- and women-owned businesses had instead primarily benefited White people.

The panel on Wednesday will "share their ideas for a more equitable economy."

The expected speakers include Ashley Henr, Executive Director, Business for a Better Portland; Andrew Hoan, CEO, Portland Business Alliance; Jan Mason, President, Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon; James Parker, Executive Director, Oregon Native American Chamber; and Orlando Williams of the Black American Chamber of Commerce.

XRAY.FM and Pamplin Media Group are media sponsors of the event.

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