The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality awarded approximately $125,000 total to 13 businesses and non-profits in Oregon’s repair and reuse industry on Friday, July 17. DEQ’s 2020 Workforce Development Repair and Reuse grants provide up to $10,000 to each awardee to support projects that help protect Oregon’s environment, public health and economy.
2020 Repair and Reuse grant recipients and project descriptions (see list below) include Rugged Thread in Bend; Klamath Works Bicycle Repair and Reuse Shop in Klamath Falls; Indigo Proof Denim Repair in Portland; as well as a tool lending library and other businesses and non-profits across the state.
“We are ecstatic to report that this year’s pool of applicants and grant proposals was the most competitive yet, because it underscores Oregon’s shared commitment to producing and managing materials more responsibly,” said Marie Diodati, Materials Management grant manager.
In response to the impact the COVID-19 on businesses, DEQ changed the scope and amount of the repair and reuse grants to maximize their value. The funding covers wages and benefits for new or current employees, training and equipment. Some grantees intend to use funding to make their business model and operations more responsive to the demands of the pandemic.
“The grant applicants represented a wide range of communities and many grantees provide direct service to historically marginalized populations. With these grants, DEQ can engage more Oregon communities in sustainable materials management practices – which focus on using and reusing resources more productively and sustainably,” Diodati said.
“We look forward to putting DEQ’s Repair and Reuse grant to work for our community,” said Kim Kinney, CEO and founder of Rugged Thread, an outdoor industry repair facility for technical outdoor clothing and gear, including tents, sleeping bags and packs. “We are developing a training program to support our goal of creating 16 local, highly skilled, family and living wage jobs by 2024.”
Corvallis Bicycle Collective
Project: Shop Reopening
Summary: The grant will fund their payroll needs upon reopening while they adapt shop policies and practices to best adhere to current social distancing and sanitation guidelines. The grant will also support expansion of their online sales platform in order to better serve members of their community for whom coming into their retail space may present a difficulty due to personal health concerns and other COVID-19 related challenges. All funds will be used for staff time.
Cracked Pots Inc.
Project: Support for Repair and Reuse Efforts
Summary: The grant will be used to purchase high-quality tools for their workshop to increase their repair capacity and efficiency. It will also pay some of the salary of the primary employee who does their repair work (materials manager), including time to train their retail lead and interested volunteers in repair techniques, and the use of more sophisticated tools. It will also cover a wage increase for their retail lead for six months, after which they will maintain that increase. A small portion of the funds will also go to repair equipment like saws and sanders.
Drexel H. Foundation
Project: Drexel H. Foundation’s Formal Wear, Sports Equipment and Bike Sustainability Project
Summary: The grant will extend staff hours and fund the addition and training of a new part-time employee. This new employee will help expand the organization’s free formalwear closet program as well as other sustainability programs. Currently, their sustainability programs allow people to earn an item for free by doing community service. The funds will help develop this program to include repair and reuse of sports equipment and repair of bikes for all ages. Training for the new staff includes: 1) child protection practices and Drexel’s inclusion-equity policies, 2) use of a sewing machine (if needed), 3) basic bicycle repair, 4) restringing a tennis racket, and 5) developing interpersonal skills such as how to deal with the general public and vendors. A small portion of this funding will also include the purchase of tennis racket, bike and sewing machine repair tools.
Friends of Chehalem House
Project: Lucky Finds Thrift
Summary: The grant will fund a new half-time manager position, which will grow to full-time as the net income of sales increases. The training needed for this position is comprehensive as it requires managerial, leadership and decision making skills, personnel practices, oversight and delegation. The funds will also subsidize internships for entry-level skill development with the opportunity for developing higher-level skills such managing new online sales strategies. Items they reuse and repair include: clothing and shoes for adults and children, household small appliances, kitchen and housewares, books, electronics, games, crafts and recreation, furnishings and decorations, holiday/seasonal items and vintage items.
Project: Green Lents Community Tool Library
Summary: The funding will be used to hire a new coordinator who will be essential to their ongoing success. Since the Tool Library is primarily run by volunteers, a significant responsibility of this position includes volunteer recruitment, training and scheduling. Volunteers help with checking tools in and out each week, and with the ongoing repair and maintenance of tools and other administrative tasks.
Habitat for Humanity West Tuality
Project: Forest Grove ReStore – Critical Staffing Needs
Location: Forest Grove
Summary: The grant will be used to fill any staffing shortage needed to reopen the store fully. If for any reason, the grant is not needed to cover shortages at existing positions, the funds will be used for staffing specifically to develop ways to increase the quantity of merchandise processed by the store. For example: 1) developing new lines of supply such as bin sales, partnerships with lumber yards, cabinet shops, contractors and others who have an excess of goods, which could be sold through their store rather than disposed, 2) increasing the quantity of furniture that is refinished or repaired in the furniture workshop which may include partnering with job-training, homeless-remediation and other programs, and 3) identifying alternatives to prevent/reduce items being rejected as donations, so that more goods can be processed through the store.
iExperts Mobile Repair
Project: Workforce Expansion and Development
Summary: This funding will be used to hire and train a new member of their team, enabling the business to expand its service area to new zip codes and towns that are currently difficult to reach. The funds will supplement the new employee’s income both during and after the training process. Once trained, the new electronics technician will repair most major brands of smartphones, diagnose any problems their customers might have with their devices, interact with customers in a professional and friendly manner, maintain an inventory of parts supplied by their company, and be available for further training as new phones and tablets are released. The applicant estimates that by adding a team member and expanding their service area, they will be able to repair an extra 50-100 devices each year that would otherwise be thrown out or replaced.
Indigo Proof Denim Repair
Project: Hire and Train a Denim Tailor
Summary: The primary objective of this project is to hire and train a new employee to be a denim tailor who, once trained, will be a valuable asset to Indigo Proof. Denim tailoring, which requires specialized skills in contrast to general tailoring, is the foundation for their meticulous repair methods. This grant will go towards paying for a new employee’s training in denim tailoring and basic repair. A small portion of the funds will also go toward refurbishment of repairing equipment.
JD’s Shoe Repair
Project: Intensify Cobbler Skills
Summary: The owner and primary cobbler will use the funds to hire a part-time person to begin learning new skills, primarily in shoe shines and finish work. What the owner needs most is time off the shop floor to research options for realigning the business model in response to the COVID-19 crisis. By keeping the cobblers at work, the owner can effectively market and scale the shop not only to survive but to continue to grow. Funds will also be used to procure a stock of supplies in anticipation of upcoming shortages and intensify training for the cobbler hired through a 2017 DEQ grant.
Project: Klamath Works Bicycle Repair and Reuse Shop
Location: Klamath Falls
Summary: With the grant funds, the organization will hire a bicycle repair technician, who will: inventory their current stock of bicycles, determine what parts and equipment they will need, assist in purchasing parts and equipment and setting up the bicycle repair facility, provide on-going training to potential bicycle loan clients; and repair bicycles for reuse. The technician will also provide initial training in bicycle repair and reuse for key staff members and to clients. A portion of the funds will also be used for repair equipment and bike parts.
Project: Curriculum Development for Outdoor Industry Repair Technicians
Summary: The grant will help refine their onboarding process and training for Level I Apprentices as well as the development the Level II Journey Person and Level III Mastery training programs. These positions will cover all four seasons of outdoor industry product repairs and a wide variety of technical outdoor textile products, including: snow sports, hunting and fishing, cycling, moto, camping and a plethora of zipper repair and replacement techniques. The funds will also facilitate the use and troubleshooting of industrial sewing machines and other production stations, care and use of standard tools, 5-S workspace organization, standard materials, and the value of production data recording. Their long-term goal is to develop a national certification program for sewists /repair technicians in the outdoor industry.
St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane Count
Project: Appliance Reuse Training/Quality Control
Summary: Funding will support a new position in their appliance repair department. This position combines two functions: quality-control training and new retail partner collaboration. St. Vincent de Paul employees evaluate appliances, then refurbish and repair those that still have a usable life. Appliances deemed too old and damaged for repair are recycled. Cleaned, updated and tested machines are then sold with a three-month warranty in the agency’s retail thrift stores. They will 1) work to grow their outreach to more area retailers, 2) develop written training materials to assist staff in prioritizing energy efficient models for refurbishing and 3) bring back one full-time staff member currently laid off.
Viking Sewing Vacuum Spa
Project: Viking Textile Maker Hub Expansion
Summary: The grant will fund three components including: alterations by gig sewists, classroom space, and a textile makerspace. The grantee has an incubator space for gig sewists to provide repairs for the community during Viking’s open hours. This provides a safe and professional space for sewists seeking flexible and autonomous repair work. Two available rooms will be dedicated classroom space for local textile artisans to teach repair curriculum. The classrooms will allow 48 hours per week of planned programming for the public. The makerspace will provide local sewists the use of specialized industrial sewing equipment that is heavy duty, expensive and requires extra training to use, so most textile artists do not have access to these types of machines. The funds will be used to pay for trainers, curriculum development for students, sewing equipment, scholarships for in-house repair classes and upgrades for the makerspace.