March 23, 2020
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed

President declares a 'major disaster' in Washington

On Sunday President Donald Trump issued a "major disaster" declaration for Washington state, but didn't immediately offer most of the assistance that Gov. Jay Inslee had requested.

“The president’s action makes federal funding available for crisis counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of Washington,” President Trump’s declaration said.

Inslee had asked the president Friday in a 74-page letter for a variety of federal resources, including disaster unemployment insurance, mass care and emergency assistance, and more.

"The small business community in our state has suffered substantial economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," Inslee wrote, later adding, "The full economic impact to our state, though not yet fully realized, will require substantial financial assistance from the federal government for years to come."

The governor said Washington is in need of federal aid for unemployed workers. The state's Employment Security Department's website saw 500,000 users over a two-day span would normally see just 30,000 users, ESD reported. Phone calls jumped 827%.

Aside from crisis counseling and mental-health training, the rest of the governor's requests remain under review by the White House.

The president also said the federal government would pay for the National Guard to respond in Washington, New York and California. It's not clear what missions, if any, the Washington National Guard will perform in Washington.

In positive news for hard-hit employers, all of Washington state is now eligible to apply for Small Business Administration disaster loans. While other relief is being discussed in the nation's capital, SBA disaster loans remain the most reliable and immediately available relief for businesses struggling due to COVID-19 restrictions.

AWB has a full COVID-19 resource page for employers with a curated, updated list of links and information.

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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