The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority has been working with the Washington State Department of Commerce in administering the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant Program. This program was announced by Governor Inslee on March 18 to assist small businesses impacted by the COVID‐19 outbreak and the response to it. Funding is being provided through the use of $5.0 million from the Governors Strategic Reserve Fund.
Grant funding up to $10,000 per business will be provided to a limited number of businesses in Washington’s 39 counties. Applicants must have been in business for at least a year and have no more than 10 full‐time employees. Grant funds can be used for operating expenses including rent, supplies/inventory, utility bills, consulting, marketing, and training. Payroll cannot be reimbursed as part of the grant program.
The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority accepted and processed applications on behalf of the Department of Commerce. The Governor’s Office will make the final small business selections. The Regional Port was flooded with applications once the Department of Commerce website went live on April 7th.
To date, the Regional Port has received over 800 applications from small businesses in Chelan and Douglas Counties with grant requests exceeding $8.0 million. The Regional Port estimates $173,000 will be available for the two county area from the Governors Strategic Reserve Fund. With so many applications and very little money, the Regional Port has requested the maximum grant amount for Chelan and Douglas County small businesses be placed at $5,000 per business. This way more deserving businesses will receive some funding instead of none at all. Grants will be made available to approximately 34 businesses in lieu of 17. Grant award announcements are expected within the next three to four weeks.
The State also requested the Regional Port submit applications for “Aspirational State Funding” in case additional state and/or federal funds could be secured for the program. That amount for the two county region is estimated at $674,000.
Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority Board of Directors President Rory Turner said, “the demand for small business grants in our region has been overwhelming. The board of directors have asked our administrative team to look at other opportunities to secure funding for our impacted small businesses.”
The Regional Port is currently working with several local governmental agencies to determine if Community Development Block Grant funding can be used to assist small businesses impacted by COVID‐19.