PENDLETON — Within the span of a few weeks, the Pendleton Development Commission dispersed $140,000 in grants to 70 businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commission had originally created the Pendleton Retail and Hospitality Relief Program to include just 50 businesses in the urban renewal district, with each recipient eligible for a $2,000 grant.

But more than 50 businesses applied for the grant, requiring Pendleton to use a lottery to select the winners. The commission voted Thursday to extend the grant pool to include the businesses who weren’t chosen in the lottery.

“Numerous emails were received from the businesses who received the grants, expressing their gratitude, with several expressing the opinion that the grant would allow them to stay in business,” Pendleton Development Commission Associate Director Charles Denight wrote in an email.

Not everyone emerged from the process happy with the way things shook out.

The commission took a firm stance against offering the grant to a handful of businesses who applied for it after the deadline.

Additionally, 11 businesses outside of the urban renewal district, which is comprised of downtown Pendleton and some of the surrounding area, applied but were denied the grant.

“A few unhappy emails were received from the businesses outside the URD, expressing dissatisfaction with the discrimination favoring downtown businesses,” Denight wrote. “The legal limits on our funding ability when the source is urban renewal (tax increment financing) does not seem to impact feelings on that issue.”

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