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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane-area business owners discuss recovery with Murray

Caleb and Karli Ingersoll, owners of Lucky You Lounge in Browne’s Addition, shown here, participated in a business roundtable Tuesday to discuss concerns and economic relief with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane-area business owners met with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in a virtual roundtable Tuesday to discuss concerns related to future economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic.

The plan, signed into law earlier this month, provided $50 billion in additional financial relief for small businesses.

Greater Spokane Incorporated and its partners distributed nearly $30 million in CARES Act funding in the Spokane region in the past year. Although the grants served more than 2,000 businesses and nonprofits in the region, some are still grappling with economic recovery, said Alisha Benson, GSI’s chief executive officer.

“We’re in discussions with our partners and with our elected officials around what support can look like as we continue through our recovery of this pandemic,” she said. “With the American Rescue Plan funds, it’s really critical that our community is strategic and that we’re organized on how we invest these funds into our region … we want to be able to think about how we’re targeting those investments to help the business community recover for the long term.”

Lucky You Lounge owners Caleb and Karli Ingersoll said it has been challenging to remain in business with closures of live venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s a huge loss of revenue, and we had to pivot into just making a restaurant function, which was a secondary piece of the business when we first opened, so we didn’t actually get very much revenue from that,” Caleb Ingersoll said.

The Ingersolls received local and federal grant funding, which kept Lucky You Lounge, 1801 W. Sunset Blvd., operating.

Their concern, however, is the amount of debt incurred during the pandemic without clarity on when Lucky You Lounge will be able to return to 100% indoor capacity.

“We’re nervous about what the other side of that looks like and whether or not we’ll even be able to do enough business to sustain the amount of debt that we’ve incurred through this,” Ingersoll said.

“So I think that we’re looking hopeful to the future, but we also just kind of have no idea what that’s going to look like. So we’re going to try our best to be frugal with what we have and try to make smart decisions through this.”

Murray, a Democrat and one of the key authors of the American Rescue Plan, said she will continue advocating for businesses’ needs.

“I’m glad I was able to hear directly from small business owners about what has been working and what hasn’t in terms of federal relief,” Murray said. “Local stories like these will help me shape better policies when I go back to the other Washington to make sure our families get the support they need.”