107 businesses applied in first round of county small business grants

Grays Harbor County has $500,000 in federal CARES Act small business grant funding to help those who suffered business losses during COVID-19 restrictions, but as of the first application cycle deadline Monday, 107 businesses had requested a total of $944,517. More rounds of funding are likely, county officials said.

Commissioner Randy Ross provided the numbers at a commission meeting Tuesday. The list was broken down by zip code, the amount requested — grants can be up to $10,000 — and losses the businesses reported on their applications, among other required information.

In total, the losses reported amounted to $4,592,146. The 36 Aberdeen businesses reported losses of more than $1.5 million; Montesano, 17 businesses at $806,650; Elma, 11 businesses at $602,870; and Westport’s 12 business applicants and Ocean Shores’ 11 claimed losses just short of $600,000 per city.

The application also asked for any COVID-related funding from other sources, which will be used by the county’s .09 Committee to rank the applicants for final approval by the commission to release the first $500,000 in grants. That committee typically deals with grants for economic development related projects.

Applications are still being accepted at http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/news_detail_T16_R113.php, with two additional application rounds ending July 20 and Aug. 3.

Businesses who do not make the first cut won’t be out of the running for a slice of the more than $4 million in CARES Act COVID-19 relief money the county is eligible for. Ross and Commissioner Vickie Raines said the county intends to provide much more in the way of small business relief. While the total amount isn’t set in stone, previous discussions had an amount ranging from $2 million to the entire amount of CARES Act funds — Commissioner Wes Cormier, who was not at the meeting Tuesday, has stated that’s his preferred use of the money.

“I’ve looked at what other counties are providing for small businesses,” said Raines. Using Lewis County as an example, that county has been approved for about $300,000 more in CARES Act funds than Grays Harbor, but is providing around $250,000 for its small businesses. “I think we’re doing a great job at the initial $500,000 and we’ll see what additional needs are.”

Ross said he hopes businesses that haven’t received any grants or other assistance from other sources would be given priority by the ranking committee.

“There are some businesses who have received millions of dollars” in other assistance, said Ross, who urged the .09 committee to make businesses who didn’t get any funding get “priority one.” Other sources listed by Ross including the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster loan advance.

Priority is also given to businesses with 25 or fewer employees, but businesses with up to 50 can qualify. According to Ross’s spreadsheet, the 107 businesses that applied countywide claimed just shy of 360 total employees, the bulk in Aberdeen, Montesano and Elma.

CARES Act funds are reimbursable funds, meaning the county fronts the first $500,000 in grants. When that is reimbursed – the funds are administered by the state Department of Commerce, which has promised a prompt response to reimbursement requests – the reimbursement funds will be used to fund the next $500,000 in grants, depending on need.

Commissioners Tuesday also approved a little more than $11,000 in CARES Act funding for county departments, mostly for laptops, personal protection equipment such as masks, and software.