Friday’s Pierce County business webinar featured as a panelist Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, who detailed several of the ways the city is working with regional and national economic partners to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the local business community.
Resources highlighted in her commentary included the Chamber’s Rapid Response Team and Make it Tacoma, which has a comprehensive list of information on health and public services, financial support, business resilience, and employer/employee resources, all of which is updated daily as changes are made in programs. Mayor Woodards assured brick and mortars that police are doing extra patrols of business districts to protect those businesses that are not boarded up; for those businesses that have chosen to board up, Mayor Woodards thanked the Downtown Tacoma Partnership for organizing artists to paint murals to brighten the streets.
Other presenters included Ron Eidshaug, vice president of congressional affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who spoke about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
“Both are live now,” he said. “The PPP opened last week to many and opens today for self-employed workers and independent contractors. Tens of thousands of small businesses have applied for the PPP, and about $100 billion of the $350 (billion) that makes that up has been asked for. The EIDL is $10 billion and it looks like it has already blown through that. We’re asking Congress today to set aside more money for both.”
Eidshaug said that with such programs, growing pains are to be expected and that there is a lot of uncertainty. He said that the treasury earlier this week announced additional support to banks that are responsible for distributing the PPP so that they are able to write the loans they need to, and that this motion should help to address some of those growing pains.
Local programs that go beyond the federal PPP and EIDL similarly are seeing a need that appears to be greater than the funds currently available. The Working Washington Small Business Grant Program, for example, can give up to $10,000 for companies with 10 or fewer employees. Pierce County has $360,000 to distribute to 36 businesses, and has received 1,500 applications, according to CEO of Pierce County Economic Development Bruce Kendall.
The City of Tacoma’s Stabilization Loan Fund, mentioned by Mayor Woodards, is a $1 million fund for small businesses in Tacoma that can supply $15,000 of working capital to cover lost revenue. It has already received 495 pre-applications, with 265 eligible applications and 105 applications currently under review. It is not currently accepting additional applicants.
“That’s $3.5 million in requests, with the average request being $13,500,” Mayor Woodards said. “We’re looking for ways to fund as many as possible. We’re hoping to add more to that fund, but we don’t know yet.”