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OLYMPIA – The Thurston County Board of Commissioners have been working with Thurston Strong (thurstonstrong.org), a local economic recovery task force, administered by the Thurston County Economic Development Council, to provide funding to support local businesses facing economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, the county has provided $6,230,000 in Coronavirus Relief (CARES Act) Funding of the more than $10 million in funds from partnering jurisdictions to support programs through Thurston Strong. Other funding partners include the Cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater as well as the State of Washington.

The initiatives supported by Thurston Strong include microbusiness grants, childcare support grants, PPE resources, restaurant and retailer grants, business resiliency training, agriculture support grants, nonprofit grants, and minority owned business grants. Partners aiding in administration of these initiatives include the Thurston County Economic Development Council, Thurston Chamber of Commerce, Cielo, the Minority Business Development Authority, the Community Foundation, WSU Extension, and the Visitors and Convention Bureau (Experience Olympia and Beyond).

Commission Chair, John Hutchings said, “We are so grateful to Thurston Strong and the amazing services they have provided to our community during these unusual times. Through the funding from the county and other partners, more than 500 of our local small businesses have received or will receive microbusiness grants and another 125 businesses have received childcare grants, with hundreds more to be served in the weeks ahead.” Hutchings added, “Moving this funding through Thurston Strong has allowed us to really reinvest in our community and support those most in need and impacted by the virus. The pandemic has stretched far beyond what we imagined and while we may not be able to rescue these businesses, we are hopeful we can help provide a bridge to resources and ease in the burden as we move forward.” 

By June 2020, the county saw a nearly 20% drop in gross regional product, totaling around $2.5 billion. Data suggests the county’s investment in CARES funding is expected to stimulate an additional $3.6 million in labor income and $8.5 million in output through direct, indirect, and induced spending, as well as $456,000 in state and local taxes. The county should leverage nearly a 40% return on investment using these funds to support increased business activity and preserve jobs.

To learn more about Thurston Strong or to apply for a grant, visit: Thurstonstrong.org. New grants will be live Tuesday October 13, 2020. 

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