Photo by Guilherme Santiago

Banding together to help the community has been a common theme and trend during this COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen it in the business communities, as well, including with a majority of the South Sound’s chambers, economic development groups, and alliances. The following is a list of what some of these alliances are doing to keep their respective communities informed and to assist them as best they can to overcome any obstacles they may be facing.


Grays Harbor County

Greater Grays Harbor, which functions both as the county’s chamber of commerce and its economic development council, has its own COVID-19 resources web page, which includes data and updates about everything from national issues (CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program, and SBA loans and grants) to statewide and local news. This is one of the most comprehensive sites around.


Mason County

Mason County’s Economic Development Council site has COVID-19 updates front and center on its site, including a link to a confidential economic impact survey and links to available resources. Consistently updated resources also can be found on the Shelton-Mason County Chamber’s site at masonchamber.com.

Also, the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound and the United Way of Mason County have partnered to create the Mason County COVID-19 Response Fund. thecommunityfoundation.com/covid-response/mason


Lewis County

Both the Lewis County EDC and the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce have their own COVID-19 resource links. The EDC’s page, for example, provides direct links to information on the CARES Act and a list of general resources for affected businesses.

Community Foundation of South Puget Sound and United Way of Lewis County have partnered to establish the Lewis County COVID-19 Response Fund.


Pierce County

Many business leaders know of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s thrice-weekly COVID-19 Business Info Series hosted at tacomachamber.org. Now, the chamber, in partnership with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, is conducting a 90-day rapid response period to consult directly with South Sound companies. During these telephone-based conversations and virtual question forms, the team is able to get the pulse of area business owners to discover areas of common concern such as capital needs, legal assistance, marketing, technology requirements, and more. Visit rapidresponsesouthsound.com for more information.

Help in the form of emergency funds also is available for qualified applicants thanks to a partnership between the United Way of Pierce County and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. Coined as the Pierce County Connected COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, the fund supports “organizations providing services to address urgent needs and the disruption of basic human services to Pierce County’s most vulnerable populations.” Seeded by the foundation and local donors, the $6.8 million fund continues to help governments, schools, and organizations weather the current economic crisis.


Thurston County

Whether looking for tips on deep cleaning offices or reopening a business, the Thurston County Chamber tackles the coronavirus-related economic issues that business owners need to know via its Business Essentials webinar series. These free webinars begin at 11 a.m. on Fridays via Zoom conference. Advance registration at thurstonchamber.org is required.

Alternatively, if one-on-one coaching is needed, business leaders in Thurston County can dial a business resource hotline at (888) 821-6652 and connect with a person who is equipped to answer questions and give directions to available resources around Thurston County. The hotline is provided by the City of Olympia.

Community Foundation of South Puget Sound and United Way of Thurston County have partnered to establish the Thurston County COVID-19 Response Fund.


Statewide

There are myriad business webinar series in today’s COVID-19 economy; however, most of these well-intentioned broadcasts deal with all-encompassing issues while industry-specific problems fall to the wayside. Fortunately, the Association of Washington Business’ COVID-19 Employer Resource Webinar series spends an entire session dissecting the issues facing one industry at a time, such as agriculture or manufacturing. Webinars can be accessed via awb.org.

Even with all of these organizations offering assistance, finding the right resource still can prove difficult. Cue 2-11 Washington, a statewide catchall to assist with any and all resources that may be lacking from other sources. Simply dial 2-11 from any phone to be connected on topics as diverse as finding employment for individuals with disabilities, receiving rental assistance, taking English as a second language courses, obtaining bus fare, and more.