The City of Hoquiam is using some of its federal CARES Act coronavirus relief funds to support local businesses through grants, advertising and tents for outdoor seating at local restaurants.
Mayor Ben Winkelman told the City Council on Monday that he reached out to restaurants that had to shut down indoor seating completely per Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest mandate issued Nov. 15.
“They are allowed to have outdoor seating with tents as long as two sides are open,” said Winkelman.
City staff initially looked to purchase some tents that could be put to use in other ways when no longer needed by the restaurants, “but unfortunately the demand for those tents went through the roof” when the governor’s order went into place, said Winkelman. “So we were able to secure rental for two 20-by-40 and one 20-by-20 tent.”
The next step was deciding where the tents could best be put to use. By Saturday one of the larger tents was up at Ashley’s Pub Haus, formerly The Place to Be, at 710 J St. The 20-by-20 tent was visible Monday at Speed Bowls at 204 Lincoln St.
“What’s nice about that one (at Ashley’s) is the neighboring businesses got some sort of agreement to allow the outdoor seating to be used” by several restaurants, said Winkelman. He said Sgt. Brand’s Barbecue, Brunch 101 and Rose’s Taqueria could also benefit from the tent at Ashley’s Pub Haus, which is visible above the fence in the pub’s beer garden on the east end of the building.
The third tent was scheduled to go up Wednesday at the Grizzly Den at 300 West Emerson, said Winkelman.
“The Grizzly Den is offering not only to use it for their restaurant but if others want to participate over there,” said Winkelman.
City Finance Director Corri Schmid told the council the cost of the tent rental was $8,900, all reimbursable through the CARES Act. Winkelman said that rate covers two of the tents through the end of January and one through the end of December. He said the tents are “supposed to be some of the toughest out there” and he’s hopeful they can stand up to the wind and rain.
The city contracted with a full-service marketing media company to film some commercials featuring Hoquiam businesses and restaurants. These will be aired on Q13 Fox, some during breaks during Seahawks games, and also on other channels like Hallmark and Joe TV, said Winkelman.
“It’s to promote the healthy and safe shopping and dining experience in historic Hoquiam,” said Winkelman. Featured in the ads are several businesses, including the Hoquiam Brewery, Harbor Drug and the farmers market.
Ads will also run on streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, targeting the South Sound region “to encourage people to shop out here,” said Winkelman. The campaign is scheduled to run through the holiday season.
There will also be a social media campaign using the Hoquiam Business Association website as a “landing page,” pushing online traffic to its page to promote Hoquiam businesses, whether they are members of the business association or not.
Schmid said all told the advertising campaign will use about $26,000 in the city’s CARES Act funds.
The city is providing $42,000 in grants to business and nonprofits that suffered economic losses during the pandemic. However, the grants were announced Monday afternoon, and applications were due by Wednesday at 8 a.m. Grants are up to $3,000.
CARES Act balance
Hoquiam qualified for $384,200 in federal CARES Act funds for coronavirus-related expenses. After the business grants and related $5,000 for the partnership with Greater Grays Harbor Inc., tent rental, advertising campaign, technology-related expenses, and other related expenses, the city will have about $19,000 of its allocation left, Schmid told the council.
“If there are any funds remaining we are able to claim any public safety salaries,” said Schmid, so by the Nov. 30 deadline for use of the funds, “we will use all the funds.”
CARES Act funds are reimbursable. The federal funds are allocated through the state Department of Commerce. Any entity approved for the funds must first cover the expenses up front, then apply through Commerce to be reimbursed for those expenses. There are rules as to how the funds can be spent, and if not used by the Nov. 30 deadline, those funds are lost.
Schmid said she will provide a list of all the city’s CARES Act expenditures to the council after the Nov. 30 deadline.