NuLeaf Project Now Accepting Applications for Grant Funding for Businesses in Communities of Color in Portland, Ore.

Portland Skyline and Mt. Hood

By Eric Sandy

Jeannette Ward Horton and Jesce Horton want to lift up the communities that have been disproportionately hurt by the prohibition of cannabis and the prosecution of cannabis-related crimes. With the NuLeaf Project and Prosper Portland’s new spotlight on the cannabis industry, they’re setting out to do just that.

Prosper Portland, a public economic development agency, sent $150,000 through its Cannabis Business Development Program to the Horton’s NuLeaf Project, which will now set up two separate programs.

According to the NuLeaf press release:

“NuFuel will award grants to businesses in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.”

NuSchool is an entrepreneurial upskilling program that combines technical expertise, education and business mentoring services customized for the needs of the entrepreneur.”

Applications for both programs are currently being accepted.

For Jesce, the new programs build on the work of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, in “really getting deep down into what are the real causes behind there being very few people of color in the cannabis industry.”

RELATED: Read CBT‘s January 2017 cover story on Jesce Horton

A lot of what this comes down to is money and education—the tentpoles of the NuLeaf Project’s work. NuLeaf now has the funds on hand to support entrepreneurs of color in Portland and to help them learn more about not just cannabis, but about the local regulations surrounding the industry and the business savvy needed to thrive in a competitive market.

“In our work, Jeannette and I … have been very involved at the city level, ushering in a lot of the different cannabis policies at the city and the state level. As we were deciding at the City Council level, a small group of people from the industry were working with Commissioner Fritz to determine what were going to be the categories where the cannabis tax went to.

Cities in Oregon were given the power to enact an additional three-percent tax on top of the state’s 17-percent cannabis sales tax.

Portland voters approved this local tax levy in 2016, and the city codified what that money would be used to support in the city. This included: “Support for neighborhood small businesses, especially women-owned and minority-owned businesses, including but not limited to business incubator programs, management training, and job training opportunities; and providing economic opportunity and education to communities disproportionately-impacted by cannabis prohibition.

This is where the NuLeaf Project’s new endeavors enter the picture.

“The NuLeaf Project will assist between 10 and 20 businesses with services like accounting and tax advice, one-on-one business development, and training workshops,” Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam said in a public statement. “This aligns well with our mission to create economic growth and opportunity for Portland.”

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