Lien Trinh, owner of DentureCare Inc., prepares some dentures for patients at her West Spruce Street business. She’s one of many Sequim businesses receiving a business grant from the City of Sequim to help during the pandemic. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Lien Trinh, owner of DentureCare Inc., prepares some dentures for patients at her West Spruce Street business. She’s one of many Sequim businesses receiving a business grant from the City of Sequim to help during the pandemic. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim extends COVID-19 business grants

SEQUIM — Sequim City Council members chose to add up to another $60,000 to the city’s COVID-19 Small Business Rapid Relief Program so that the fund can continue to help retailers during the pandemic.

In April, they agreed to use $250,000 from the city’s Rainy Day Fund to help Sequim businesses with less than 50 employees. Grants were awarded after an application process involving officials with the city and Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce.

On June 22, the council opted to extend the fund with Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell encouraging fellow council members to “keep the chain going.”

As of the beginning of this week, nearly $200,000 of the fund had been designated for local businesses, with as much as $15,000 going to business owners in need of support.

One grant recipient, Lien Trinh, owner and denturist at DentureCare Inc., 124 W. Spruce St., since 2015, reopened on May 26 after being closed for more than two months. She said the grant will help make up some of the lost revenue for salaries of two staffers and herself.

“Customers have been eager,” she said. “They kept calling and checking. They can’t wait to get back in because they can’t eat or they’re in pain.”

She has increased precautions — taking temperatures, wearing masks (staff and customers), and frequent spot cleaning.

“I’m kind of worried about more cases, but I’m taking it one day at a time,” she said. “Hopefully, we don’t have to shut down again, but if it has to be, it has to be.”

Aaron Staeben, an occupational therapist and owner of Peak Performance Therapy Center, 519 Eureka Way, said the city grant “is a huge deal” to help with his operating costs.

“The health industry for the next few months is going to be pretty dismal,” he said.

With insurers paying businesses like his now after seeing clients in recent months, he’s concerned about payments coming this summer after they saw a smaller number of clients during COVID-19-related closures.

Staeben said his essential business remained open and his 18 employees — including himself — remained on the job.

“Just knowing that we have a little bit more cushion, it’s a good chunk of money … it’s going to help us survive the summer,” he said.

Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said Clallam County commissioners are considering $200,000 for business relief using funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Ferrell, however, said he felt their process will be slowed in supporting businesses in need now.

“We have to be sensitive about getting these things done … even if (businesses are) open now and getting a few customers, they’re still hurting,” he said.

Council member Brandon Janisse agreed.

“I think we need to make sure we’re taking care of our town,” he said.

Those looking to apply and/or seek guidance on the grants can visit sequimchamber.com/ssbrf.

Anji Scalf, the chamber’s executive director, said the chamber encourages applicants to work with a Small Business Advisor coordinated through the Clallam Economic Development Council at chooseclallamfirst.com/contact-an-advisor.

Grants chosen lately are to Chezak at Elements, $3,000; Heart and Passion Films, $3,000; Sergio’s Family Mexican Restaurant, $5,000; Jolie Salon, $5,000, and DentureCare Inc., $8,000.

Scalf said a few unnamed applicants didn’t meet some of the criteria for the city, so they’ll be granted a smaller amount from the chamber’s parallel Small Business Relief Fund.

However, donations for the fund remain ongoing.

For more information on the COVID-19 Small Business Rapid Relief Program, call the city at 360-683-4139, or visit the chamber’s site at sequimchamber.com/ssbrf.

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 addressed to the chamber’s financial administrator at office@sequimchamber.com 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 mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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