Clallam County to consider grants with CARES funding

Small businesses could benefit from Lifeboat program

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County has teed up an agreement with the Clallam County Economic Development Council to provide grants to small businesses affected by COVID-19.

The three commissioners will consider today a $350,000 subrecipient agreement with the EDC for deploying Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.

The EDC will use the county-administered federal money for its Small Business Lifeboat grant program.

Other subrecipient agreements will follow in the coming weeks, Clallam County Chief Financial Officer Mark Lane told commissioners Monday.

“The sooner, the better,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said in the Monday work session.

“I mean, people are in need, obviously.”

Clallam County received $4.18 million in CARES Act funding for needs related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Commissioners identified six priority areas — public health, business support, rental and utility assistance, support for the homeless population, child care and food security — for CARES Act spending.

“We’re moving the ball forward,” Lane told commissioners Monday.

“I’m guessing you’ll probably be seeing one and two sub-recipient agreements a week, probably, for the next two or three weeks until we have all of our loose ends tracked down and the things pushed though the process.”

The subrecipient agreement between Clallam County and EDC was based on a template from Kitsap County and was vetted by the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

A $60,000 share of the $350,000 total will be awarded to private businesses that provide child care, according to an executive summary.

The EDC received more than 100 applications for its Small Business Lifeboat program, Lane said.

The nonprofit EDC will distribute grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses affected by COVID-19 and report monthly expenditures to the county, Lane said.

“I believe EDC’s process on the back end is very robust, and we shouldn’t have any issues with this,” Lane said in the work session.

Lane said the subrecipient agreement would reduce lag time for dispersing funds to small businesses that need them immediately.

“It eliminates this dual reimbursement billing process,” Lane said.

“Given how long its takes for us to get checks processed through our system and all of that, it could literally have added another 30 to 45 days before the funding got to EDC.”

Commissioners generally approve items discussed in work sessions the following week.

“Given the timeframe in which I know we’re trying to get these monies deployed, I went ahead and teed it up for formal approval for our meeting tomorrow,” Lane told commissioners.

The commissioners’ business meeting will begin at 10 a.m. today. It can be viewed at www.clallam.net/features/meetings.html.

“In terms of the other agreements, things are moving along very well,” Lane said.

“I was able to make a lot of connections last week, and I’m starting to get the information needed in order to flesh out what these other agreements are going to look like.”

Commissioners are expected to consider direct grant agreements with Serenity House of Clallam County for homeless services and the Port Angeles and Sequim food banks for the purchase of cold storage units to improve food security, among other CARES Act expenditures.

Lane said the county’s Health and Human Services Department was expected to request more funding for public health staff positions that were added to help in the county’s response to COVID-19.

Clallam County has allocated all but $150,000 of its CARES Act money, Lane said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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