SEQUIM — Relief grants through the City of Sequim and Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce aim to help businesses with bills, salaries and new inventory during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, nearly $180,000 in grants have gone out or been committed to 25 Sequim businesses. Another 10 businesses will be announced today.
Anji Scalf, the chamber’s executive director, said there were 35 applicants with requests going up to the maximum award of $15,000.
“The first week I had some time so I hand-delivered the checks and the response was incredible,” she said. “We know it’s bittersweet because we know people need more. At least we’re getting them a leg up.”
“I had to tap into other funds, so this’ll be nice to get the shop back and running,” said Randy Perry, owner of Sequim Shoe Repair, 425 E. Washington St., who has been closed for more than two months.
As another city grant recipient, Becky Northaven, manager of Sequim Radio Shack, 680 W. Washington St., suite B106, said she and the store’s co-owner and her partner John Graham will use funds for increasing inventory, advertising with the radio, and ensuring future utility payments.
“In this particular instance, we will be using it to help grow business, and in a few wishful areas,” she said.
Marcella Stachurski of Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm, 120 W. Washington St., is another city grant recipient and simply said she is appreciative of the local support.
In late April, the Sequim City Council agreed to transfer $250,000 from the city’s Rainy Day Fund to create a COVID-19 Small Business Rapid Relief Program. Sequim businesses with less than 50 employees had until May 15 to apply.
The chamber created a parallel Small Business Relief Fund prior to the city’s fund supporting businesses in or outside of the city limits in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
Scalf said the chamber is working on raising more money for the fund and creating a foundation to make donations tax deductible.
She said chamber representatives have followed up with grant applicants to answer questions and clarify points in their applications. By taking a grant, they’ll enter into a contract with the chamber to make sure funds are being used correctly, working with a small business advisor.
Donations to the chamber’s fund can be mailed to Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, ATTN: Sequim Small Business Relief Fund, P.O Box 907, Sequim WA 98382.
Questions can be referred to the chamber’s financial administrator at [email protected] or 360-683-6197.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].