Spokane County opened the application period Wednesday for businesses to apply for grants up to $20,000 to help with expenses caused by closures or loss of customers attributable to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Spokane County Commissioners voted last week to use $10.8 million in federal COVID-19 aid funding to set up a hospitality grant program that they hope will help the county’s struggling hotels, restaurants and event venues stay in business.
The Spokane County Hospitality Relief Grant money is a portion of the $90 million the county was allotted in CARES Act funding. The grant program will offer businesses with 249 employees or fewer up to $20,000 to cover expenses, which is twice what the county’s last grant program awarded individual applicants.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the leisure and hospitality industry had an unemployment rate of about 19% as of September. In January, before the pandemic, the industry had an unemployment rate of 5.9%. At the height of the pandemic financial crisis in April, the industry had an unemployment rate of 39.3%.
Lance Beck, president and CEO of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, said last week the tentative window for grant applications should last from Wednesday through Nov. 16, but that could change.
The grant is split into three sections, $10 million will be used for awards, $550,000 will be used to cover the cost of administering the grant, and $250,000 will be used for protective gloves for restaurants.
The grant program is being administered by GSI in partnership with Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, Visit Spokane, Downtown Spokane Partnership and Washington Hospitality Association.
The first informational webinar will be at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, with others to follow at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday. Business owners can attend at www.SpokaneHospitalityGrant.com to register. Questions can be emailed to email@example.com or by calling (509) 924-4994.
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