The Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) is committed to bringing forth the most beneficial resources, partnerships, and skills to help support the region’s businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the first day that COVID-19 began affecting Thurston County’s small businesses, the EDC started brainstorming on how best to assist business owners during this incredibly trying time. One of the main avenues that proved to be the most effective way to push out resources was by creating a robust COVID-19 Resource Page. This page is continually updated so that readers can stay informed on how the pandemic is progressing and obtain concise and easy to follow guidelines on how to request assistance.
The key component that the EDC is asking every small business to fill out is the Economic Injury Form. The form presents various questions including a brief explanation of what adverse economic effects the disaster had on your business, estimated dollar loss, and the number of employees prior to the disaster. Once completed, the form should be emailed to email@example.com. “We are requesting that businesses fill out this form on a monthly basis so that we can track the impact that COVID-19 is having,” states Kaylee Purcell, director of the center for business and innovation. These forms are of the utmost importance as they’re directly used when EDC employees head out to request funding from local state and government agencies. “If we can paint a picture of the local impact that this pandemic is having,” continues Purcell, “then it’s that much easier to request the funding that our local businesses so need. We hope that business owners can make filling out the forms a monthly habit for as long as we’re feeling the impacts of this pandemic.”
Another important feature on the EDC’s website is the latest information from on the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Founded in 1952, the SBA is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small business and provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise as the nation’s main go-to resource and voice for small businesses. Various resources from the SBA include their Economic Injury Disaster Loan that’s available to those who qualify from both nonprofits and for-profit businesses. This loan has a low interest rate with a max rate of 4 percent.
The SBA’s latest information surrounding COVID-19 is especially important for the Thurston County community as there are currently three SBA programs under one roof at the EDC, including the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC). This SBA-funded program has existed for more than 40 years and is here to help by offering programs free of charge. Locally in Thurston County, there are two advisors and many more across the state that are offering one-on-one online and phone sessions as well as many group webinars. The EDC also links to helpful pages such as the SBDC’s Disaster Planning and Recovery page as well as their Business Resiliency Toolkit.
Another SBA-funded program under the EDC’s roof is SCORE. For over 50 years, SCORE has served as America’s premier source of free business mentoring and education. Currently, they are offering online and phone sessions with their many mentors across the country. Other SCORE tools that can be found on the EDC’s website include: Will Business Interruption Insurance Help, Crisis Communications Planning Checklist and more.
The third SBA-funded program at the EDC is the Washington Center for Women in Business (WCWB). With a mission to empower entrepreneurs to succeed in business by providing coaching, training, and technical assistance on a wide variety of topics, the WCWB is a key resource during these unprecedented times. Offering assistance in both English and Spanish, the EDC recommends signing up for their various webinars and making an appointment with a knowledgeable advisor.
Other resources that can be found on the continually updated COVID-19 Resource Page are a comprehensive list of actions that businesses can take, vendor supply chains, unemployment benefits, the Employment Security Department’s shared work program and more. “We’re really trying to keep the website updated with as much real-time information as possible to help our community,” states Purcell.
Another avenue that the EDC has taken to help those in need is by creating a 501(c)(3) charitable fund that is distributed to small businesses with less than five employees. “Individuals can donate to this Fund now,” says Purcell, “and we are working with different partnerships throughout the region to secure larger funds.” The SBA’s Economic Injury Form will be part of application process to be eligible to receive these funds, which is another reason that the EDC recommends filling out that form now to be ahead of the game.
The EDC also would like individuals to be aware of the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound and United Way of Thurston County’s newly established Thurston County COVID-19 Response Fund. This Fund is designed to complement the work of public health officials and expand local capacity to address all aspects of the outbreak as efficiently as possible by assisting the most disproportionately impacted individuals and families, as well as certain organizations in our community who are serving those populations.
Additionally, the EDC has implemented a weekly call with their resource partners to discuss updates on what resources are currently available, new closures, and other important updates. These calls take place each Friday, please contact the EDC if you would like to learn more about these calls.
To stay up-to-date on all aspects surrounding the rapidly changing COVID-19, follow the EDC on Facebook and Twitter as well as the WCWB Facebook. Feel free to contact the EDC at 360-754-6320 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.