Local businesses receive Whatcom ReStart Covid-19 grants

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A countywide program is distributing more than $2.5 million in federal funds to support local businesses impacted by Covid-19. The Whatcom ReStart grants, funded by federal CARES Act dollars, will fund 269 Whatcom County businesses and nonprofits, including three Point Roberts businesses, eight Blaine businesses and some in Birch Bay and the rest of unincorporated Whatcom County.

Businesses and nonprofits could receive up to $15,000 each. The Point Roberts businesses to receive grants are:

  • Auntie Pam’s Country Store
  • Vick Enterprises, Inc. (Shell station)
  • Pier Café & Bistro (Saltwater Café)

For unincorporated Whatcom County, 33 businesses out of 104 applicants received funds from a pool of about $440,000.

Deputy county executive Tyler Schroeder convened a team to review grant applications from businesses in unincorporated Whatcom County. That team included: Rud Browne, Whatcom County councilmember; Tawni Helms, administrative services coordinator for Whatcom County; Christopher Quinn, senior civil deputy prosecuting attorney for the county prosecutor’s office; Gina Stark, Port of Bellingham economic development project manager; Guy Occhiogrosso, CEO of the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce and Jed Holmes, Whatcom County community outreach facilitator.

The program accepted applications from July 16 to July 31. To be eligible, businesses had to meet a list of criteria, including experiencing a 25 percent or greater reduction in revenue due to Covid-19, having 25 or fewer employees and complying with Washington State Department of Health’s Covid-19 guidelines.

Review committees scored applications on three categories with various weights: Adaptivity/business strength (40 percent), impact/need (40 percent) and community contribution (20 percent).

Funds will be dispersed throughout September and October, according to the Port of Bellingham’s website on the project.

Whatcom County and cities in the county pooled CARES Act funds to create the grant program. The county tried to ensure that grant recipients were representative of the county by geography and industry, according to a press release from county executive Satpal Sidhu’s office.

“When we started these discussions about supporting small businesses impacted by Covid-19, it quickly became clear just how interconnected our county is and how we need to pool our resources,” Sidhu said in the press release. “So many of our residents live in one town or zip code but work in another. I’m grateful to all the mayors for prioritizing cooperation and collaboration. We are achieving more together than we could ever do separately.”

Congress passed the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) in March to provide more than $2 trillion in economic relief to combat the public health and economic impacts of Covid-19.

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