March 23, 2020
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed

Help for small business expands slightly, but major relief has yet to come through

Many small businesses are struggling to stay alive as the COVID-19 pandemic sends historic economic shockwaves across America. In Washington, 70% of firms reported a drop in revenue and more than 82% reported being negatively impacted in a recent AWB survey.

Today, disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration remain one of the best options for funding. These loans offer low interest rates, flexible payback schedules and can be approved in weeks. Learn more and apply by visiting the Olympia Business Watch blog. You can also apply here.

Another major funding source is at the state Employment Security Department. There, workers and employers alike can apply for a variety of programs, from unemployment benefits for workers to Shared Work and Standby programs for employers. The U.S. Department of Labor is also offering $100 million to states and tribes to help dislocated workers. AWB is working with the state Employment Security Department and the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board to give business input into Washington's grant.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Labor are coordinating help to identify foreign and domestic workers that could be transferred to other agricultural sectors to fulfill crucial agricultural workforce needs.

And the state Department of Revenue offers extensions on tax filings and certain late fees, as well as rescheduling audits and more time to file or renew a business license. Contact the department at 360.705.6705 for more information.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we're calling on Congress and the administration to move quickly to help these employers, save jobs and prevent further damage to our communities," AWB President Kris Johnson says.

Gov. Jay Inslee last week allocated $5 million from the state's Strategic Reserve Fund to help small businesses. State officials are currently working on a way to release those funds, and updates are expected this week.

Facebook has also created a $100 million small business relief fund, although details are still coming together and the company said they will take applications in the coming weeks.

For a full roundup of resources, including grants from Amazon, the city of Seattle and more, please visit AWB's employer resource page here.

Big relief packages from the federal government are still in the works as of press time, including a proposed $300 billion small business relief fund.

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Be There for Local Business

In this unprecedented time of coronavirus, we need to be there for local businesses

By Maribel Perez Wadsworth and Kevin Gentzel, USA Today

The safety measures that have forced us indoors and away from others to help stop the spread of COVID-19 are the right thing to do. We're confident our strength and resilience will carry us through. But we also recognize our small business owners need us more than ever as they take their own precautions.

To emerge from this with our communities strong and intact, we need to ensure that what make them special -- the coffee shop down the road, the local car dealership and our neighborhood music teachers -- are able to stay afloat.

While we may not be able to give them our patronage in person right now, there is much we can do to show our support.

Visit your favorite restaurant's website and purchase gift cards for yourself and others to keep some money flowing to their bottom lines. If those restaurants are still offering takeout or delivery, make a point to order from them now and again soon. And get gift cards for massage studios, arts and crafts stores, local jungle gyms and myriad other businesses.

If your local shops sell their merchandise online, make purchases -- even if the goods won't be available right away.

If you're shopping online for things you'll need while in self-quarantine, like home exercise equipment or activities for the kids, seek out local businesses to make these purchases...

Read the full column in USA Today
Speak Up for Clean Power

Don't let Snake River dams be a coronavirus casualty. Call in to save them

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

In our community-wide effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, we must not become so focused on the pandemic that we neglect other, critical issues facing the Tri-Cities.

Of upmost importance is protecting the Snake River dams, which continue to be in jeopardy.

Last week's time for phone-in comments on the recently released, federal draft Environmental Impact Statement has come and gone, but there are three more scheduled over the next two weeks, and Tri-City participation is crucial.

Considering many people have hunkered down in a semi-quarantine, this could be a good way to spend some time. Why not prepare a statement and send in your testimony, either online, by mail or by calling it in?

Knowing you are helping to protect reliable power production and the region's economy could be invigorating. And it could take your mind off the disease for a little while...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald