On Thursday, April 2, a new weekly virtual talk show for business owners and community members in Thurston County — called Declassified — had its first live episode. Taking place each Thursday via Zoom at 2:15, Declassified highlights experts speaking to information, resources, and steps to recovery after COVID-19, with opportunities for listeners to have their questions addressed throughout.
This first webinar featured Suzanne Dale Estey, executive director of the Washington Economic Development Association. Moderated by Thurston EDC executive director Michael Cade and Thurston Chamber CEO and president David Schaffert, the conversation touched on the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on local, statewide, and national levels.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Estey, who has been working in economic development for more than 26 years. “To bounce back from this, we need to all work together as cities and counties and chambers and states to have a strong economic ecosystem — all parties need to be working together.”
Etsey commented on the fact that the legislature recently finished a short 60-day session on March 12, and some of what came out of that session will be important in helping small businesses survive the crisis.
“The governor’s office secured $3 million in new funding to the Strategic Reserve Fund,” she said. “That will soon be a $5 million grant program rolled out in the next few days for small businesses called the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant Program.”
This program, Estey explained, is for businesses of up to 10 employees to secure a grant of up to $10,000 through the state. Having this money at the ready thanks for the movement made in the last legislative session “when we didn’t realize the magnitude of this crisis,” Estey said, is a “significant win.”
Applications for the program are not yet open and turnaround time once they are still is unclear, Estey said. She reassured listeners that more details should be available soon and that everyone is working at every level — state and regional — to make sure that each step of the process takes days rather than weeks.
Funds are limited, though, so she encouraged small businesses to pursue multiple relief opportunities and resources. Another one to look into, she said, is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which will “provide more significant funding and helps companies keep their workers” through state funds.
“It’s essential not just to seek these quick bandages to stop the bleeding, so to say — which is definitely necessary — but also to think more long-term about things like job retention. That’s what the PPP does.”
The PPP will be administered by the banking system; more details on applications and other information for moving forward will be communicated by businesses’ respective banks. Read more about our coverage of the PPP here.