Yesterday Gov. Inslee announced the formation of the Washington Recovery Group. This is “a new state effort to help communities recover from the social and economic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.” It will be housed in the Office of Financial Management and “will help state agencies coordinate with local governments, higher education and the private sector.” The group will focus on community and social services, education and childcare, employment and jobs, equity and social justice, health and healthcare, housing, infrastructure and energy, and support for small business.
In a press conference, Gov. Inslee said, “this group won’t be necessarily developing specific recovery policies, but they will provide feedback and be crucial in implementing them.”
At the press conference, the governor also talked a bit about the relief funds that the state has been distributing. He said that they have distributed nearly $1.8 billion in federal relief funds. I believe he is referring to distributions from three pots of money that were provided in the CARES Act—the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.
From the CRF, the state received $2.167 billion. So far, it has distributed $1.495 billion of that. (That figure includes $209,713 related to the Lost Wages Assistance program that was announced last week.) The governor noted that the distributions have included $435 million in economic support. That would include things like rent assistance, food assistance, disaster cash assistance, and assistance for nonprofits and small businesses.
Some of the funding that has been allocated specifically for business relief (from federal and state funds):
- $20.0 million for “business support grants to help small businesses navigate the immediate hurdles to reopening.”
- $3.0 million for the food production paid leave program.
- At least $29.0 million for grants to licensed child care providers (another allocation included an unspecified amount for grants to child care providers to help them reopen).
- $10.0 million for the Working Washington Small Business Grant program.
- $15.0 million to “support a number of initiatives ultimately aimed at helping Washington small businesses and strengthening core industry clusters.”
Additionally, the state has allocated $422.9 million of its share of CRF funds to local governments. (And King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane counties and the city of Seattle received CRF funds directly from the federal government.) Many of these local governments have used some of their funds to provide assistance for businesses. A few examples:
- In Spokane County, “Grants to small businesses and nonprofits were the county’s largest expenditure of COVID-19 funds. Commissioners also directed money to support the business community in other ways including providing about $1.5 million in free personal protective equipment for businesses and using the CARES funds to pay for marketing the community.”
- Pierce County used $30 million for economic stabilization programs, including business support.
- Yakima County allocated $2.8 million for small businesses.
- Benton County used $3.5 million for local business grants.
- Renton used $1.4 million for a small business relief grant program.
- Everett used funds for a small business grant program.
- Pullman allocated $369,000 for business grants.
This article was provided by the Washington Research Council
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