A view from a drone on Tuesday, Sept. 22, shows the damage in downtown Detroit. Wildfire continues to burn across Detroit Lake. (Oregon Department of Transportation photo)

There’s a lot going on in business. To help keep you up to speed, the Salem Reporter has launched a semi-regular roundup of business-related items that includes new business openings, locations, grant opportunities and others. 

To suggest an item, reach out to reporter Jake Thomas at jake@salemreporter.com

BENEFIT BUMP. Unemployment checks will be a little fatter. The Oregon Employment Department announced on Monday that it has begun adding $300 to unemployed Oregonian’s weekly benefit payments.

The additional payments are part of a second pandemic relief package signed by President Donald Trump last month. The department said on Twitter that the payments will be made retroactively and will start for the week ending on Jan. 2. The added payments will last until March 13.

According to department data, in November there were 3,067 unemployed people in Marion County receiving continued unemployment benefits and 643 in Polk County. However, department economist Gail Krumenauer said those numbers don’t reflect everyone who will be receiving the extra cash.

The new pandemic relief package also renewed two programs that extend benefits for self-employed workers and those that have run out of benefits. The additional $300 will go to those receiving benefits under those two programs. Krumenauer said the department does not yet have a county-level breakdown of how many people are receiving those benefits under the renewed programs.

FIBER IN DETROIT. Ziply Fiber announced that its new fiber internet network is available to more than 40% of Detroit’s residential and business addresses. The company took over Frontier Communications last spring with a plan to expand into rural areas in the Northwest. Ziply also plans to upgrade Frontier’s network, which was built for television and telephone connections, to fiber-optic cable, a technology designed for fast internet connections.

Detroit was decimated by September’s historic wildfires, and community leaders have said they want to improve the town’s infrastructure as it’s rebuilt. Ziply said it plans to cover the rest of Detroit early this year, promising residents internet connectivity “on par with larger metropolitan areas throughout the nation.”

More information and which addresses in Detroit are eligible can be found on Ziply’s website.

RESTAURANT CHALLENGE. The local chamber of commerce is challenging Salem to eat — and offering gift cards in exchange for selfies.

In an effort to bolster the city’s beleaguered dining establishments, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce has launched the Salem Eats Challenge.

To participate, diners can order food to-go from one of about 50 Salem restaurants, take a selfie with their order and post it to the Salem Eats Facebook page with the hashtag #SalemEatsChallenge. The event ends Tuesday, Feb. 2.

At the end there will be a drawing to give 10 participants a gift card ranging from $50 to $250 for a local restaurant (that’s a member of the chamber) of their choice. More details can be found on the chamber’s website.

NEW DIRECTOR. With an eye on promoting equity and social justice, Gov. Kate Brown announced she’ll appoint Sophorn Cheang as director of the state’s economic development agency.

Cheang currently serves as Brown’s director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Previously, Cheang worked for a nonprofit working with immigrants and refugees.

If confirmed by the Senate in February, Cheang will lead Business Oregon, an agency that helps businesses access loans, foreign markets, along with other services.

In a statement, Brown praised Cheang’s background in finance, organizational management and “experience in promoting equity and social and racial justice.” Specifically, Brown said Cheang’s experience will aid the agency’s strategic priority to advance economic opportunity for minority and underserved communities.

 Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or jake@salemreporter.com or @jakethomas2009.

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