June 4, 2020
Business and Community News
Unemployment Rates Released
Unemployment rates for April were released last week, and Columbia County fared better than expected:

Columbia County 10.4%
Walla Walla County 11.1%
Garfield County 12.1%
Snohomish County 20.2% (highest)
Statewide 15.8%

Only Whitman, Adams, and Asotin Counties had lower rates than Columbia County. A couple of factors that worked in our favor are the high percentage of government jobs here, which remained mostly stable, and the number of agricultural-based businesses, which were considered essential and allowed to continue to operate through the Stay Home proclamation. Numbers for May won't be available until the end of June.
Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants Announced
After 7 weeks of waiting, the Department of Commerce finally announced the recipients of the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program for Columbia County. Columbia County had 31 businesses apply, and 25 were awarded funds by the Governor's office and the Department of Commerce. State lottery proceeds from the Governor's Strategic Reserve Fund were used for the program. No Port of Columbia funds were used, and the Port declined using any of the funds for administration so that all monies would be available to businesses. We are working on the creation of a second, local grant fund in order to provide more assistance to those businesses still hurting from the COVID shutdown.
Phase 3 Town Hall Zoom Meeting
To all residents of Columbia County - GREAT JOB on moving through Phase 2 without any new COVID-19 cases. Now that we've made it through the 21 day period required between phases, Columbia County has applied to move to Phase 3 and are expecting approval any day.

Columbia County is again on the cutting edge of the phased reopening process, so guidance for businesses allowed to reopen MAY NOT BE READY when we receive approval. You may not reopen your business until guidance has been released. Everyone is expected to continue social distancing practices and the use of masks, and government bodies are still not allowed to meet in person at least through June 17th. All businesses that were not listed in phases 1 and 2, with the exception of nightclubs, will be able to reopen in Phase 3. A Phase 3 Town Hall Zoom Meeting will be held next week so residents and businesses can get their questions answered by local health officials.

Phase 3 Town Hall Zoom Meeting
Tuesday, June 9th
12:00 - 1:00 pm
There will be short presentations followed by the opportunity for questions and answers with Director of Public Health Martha Lanman and Columbia County Health System CEO Shane McGuire. Port and Chamber staff will also be on hand to answer questions.

Click on this link just prior to 12:00 on Tuesday, June 9th:

Join the meeting by phone:
Call-in: 1-253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 891869076#
Password: 655824#

There have been questions about enforcement of businesses ignoring closure orders or Safe Start guidance, and the Department of Labor & Industries released new rules on May 26th addressing these questions.
Sanitizer and Masks Still Available for Businesses
Locally-made hand sanitizer is still available for businesses at Columbia County Public Health. Bring your spray bottles or other containers to Public Health and have them refilled free of charge. Cloth masks are also still available. Call Public Health at 382-2181 to make arrangements for sanitizer or mask supply pickup.
PPP Loan Forgiveness Worksheets
Hard to believe this much time has passed, but some businesses are nearing the end of the 8-week period when qualifying expenses can be forgiven for PPP loans. Here are some links provided by the Small Business Development Center that may help:

There are PPP loan funds available for any businesses still interested in applying. There is also a bill in congress that has passed both the house and the senate that would provide greater flexibility in the program, including a timeline extension. It still needs the President's signature. Read more here.
All Wheels Cruise & Virtual Show

The All Wheels Weekend Committee has come up with a couple of creative ways to enjoy our annual car show in the midst of COVID-19.

A Cruise for local cars, the Dayton High Senior Class, Alumni, and anyone else feeling festive will take place Friday night, June 19th, starting at 6:00 pm. Cruisers will line up on Cottonwood Street by the football field, and the cruise will wind through the neighborhoods of Dayton and downtown so residents can enjoy the fun without gathering in large groups. A map of the cruise route will be released soon!

The Chamber is already receiving entries for the CarVID-20 Virtual Car Show. The event will be held from 6 am - 4 pm on Saturday, June 20, and there will be a chance to vote for your favorite car. Visit www.allwheelsweekend.com for details.

Please consider doing a little extra shopping downtown and enjoying a meal out at our local restaurants during the usual dates for All Wheels Weekend. Our downtown businesses count on the revenue from that weekend to help get through slower times. They need our ongoing support!
Behind on your water bill? Project Timothy still has funds available to assist individuals with rent, utilities, and food. Call them at 382-2943 to discuss options.

Our local food bank that usually serves 40 families a week is currently serving 150 families per week and needs help. Able-bodied citizens who are not at high risk for COVID-19 are needed to fill, load, and distribute food boxes. The National Guard is leaving at the end of June! Please come learn the system any Tuesday in June in preparation for taking over duties in July. 10 VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED EACH TUESDAY FROM 1 - 4 PM at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. Thanks in advance for your help! Call Judi Pilcher at 382-9380 for more info.