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Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish and Venture Portland President Michelle Wood say shoppers should support small businesses hurt by this winter's storms.

On this Valentine's Day, let's show our nearly 20,000 neighborhood small businesses some love.

The winter storms that pummeled Portland in December and January were hard on everyone, including our local small businesses. Many were forced to close as the roads iced up and employees struggled to get to work. And it couldn't come at a worse time — the holiday season, from Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, is critical to the success of a small business.

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. They provide 270,000 jobs, ensuring that our neighborhoods and our neighbors thrive. They contribute more than $100 million in taxes annually, helping to fund essential city services like firefighters and parks. And unlike the big, out-of-state internet retailers, 70 percent of every dollar you spend at a local business stays in the local economy, keeping Portland vibrant.

Our home-grown businesses call Portland home for a reason, and they put their money where their mouths are. Whether supporting Little League or homeless shelters, local businesses dig deep and give back to the communities they serve.

Our local businesses are good neighbors, and aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. Last spring, business owners in Gateway removed nearly 500 pounds of garbage and cleaned up graffiti on dozens of buildings in East Portland. For Halloween, businesses in Parkrose provided a fun and safe place for more than 1,000 kids to collect candy and coupons. At their annual Christmas tree lighting festival, Kenton businesses donated food and Christmas decorations to local families in need. And after the November gas explosion, Nob Hill businesses raised more than $20,000 to help displaced employees.

Local businesses also stand up for the community they serve. When vulnerable members of our community felt targeted, local businesses created safe spaces for our diverse communities and posted signs telling people of all races, genders, national origins, sexual identities and religions that everyone is welcome.

This Valentine's Day, we have a chance to say thank you to our small businesses with big hearts. Whether you are planning to buy your loved one the perfect card, a bouquet of roses, a box of candy, or a romantic candlelit dinner in a favorite restaurant, we hope you will join us in showing some love to our neighborhood small businesses.

Nick Fish

Portland City Commissioner

Michelle Wood

President, Venture Portland

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