Business and Community Resources
Information for Workers & Employers
Attention If you represent a business seeking immediate technical support, please call the Thurston Economic Development Council’s BUSINESS HOTLINE. Professional business counselors and support staff are available to help identify resources, complete forms and provide other guidance as necessary. BUSINESS HOTLINE (360) 754-6320. For additional resources for those affected by COVID-19, visit: thurstoncountywa.gov/phss/Pages/coronavirus.aspx
We are developing and coordinating a multi-faceted response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its specific impacts to and throughout our broader Thurston Community. Our goal is to build and reinforce community resiliency to the extent possible over the months ahead. Conditions and reporting around this situation are evolving rapidly, and this site will be periodically updated as new information and resources are identified. The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Initiative is a partnership between local municipalities and economic development organizations throughout Thurston County. While the specific tactics used to implement our response will be adjusted as necessary, we are currently pursuing a two-phased approach as follows:
Phase 1: Personal Resilience and Relief
People come first. Many workers are already experiencing economic hardships, from reduced hours and wages to loss of employment. Others fear not going into work will result in lost income and the ability to pay for essential needs like rent and food.
Yet, medical experts and every level of government make it clear the best way to combat this disease is for people to shelter in place and remove themselves from excessive social contact. The immediate goal is to flatten the curve* so we don’t overwhelm hospital capacity and exacerbate the spread of the virus. This means people need to feel more comfortable and secure staying home from work.
Given the national scope of this event, we anticipate it may be some time before any federal stimulus package or other form of government relief can be delivered to help locally. As a result, our immediate focus is connecting impacted or displaced workers to existing resources and other stop-gap measures that can help people bridge budget challenges over the next several months. Please see the ‘Resources for Impacted Workers’ section below for potential sources of relief or support for workers.
*To see the differing effects of limited vs. extensive social-distancing watch the virus simulations presented here.
Phase 2: Business Recovery and Renewal
Longer-term, we are working to develop support and response systems for impacted businesses and employers. The level of fiscal investment for this endeavor is expected to be enormous. Because local resources are limited, we will likely need to rely on stimulus packages currently under development at the State and Federal level. We believe that, by working as a region, we can best accomplish a full recovery by coordinating efforts, pooling of resources and presenting a shared voice with respect to State and Federal government response requests. The City of Olympia has invested seed funding for business recovery efforts and will work with partners to assemble a Regional Economic Recovery Task Force to help identify and direct future resources to impacted businesses.
For an inventory of existing business resources, please see the ‘Resources for Businesses and Employers’ section below.
Resources for Impacted Workers
COVID-19 is creating hardships for many area workers and additional impacts are expected. Affected workers may be able to find temporary relief through one or more of the resources below.
Coronavirus Worker Relief Act
At the time of publication, this proposed Act is currently awaiting Senate action. As currently proposed, the Act would expand the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program by making those who are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak eligible for benefits.
Specifically, in the case of an emergency declaration by the president, the bill would:
- Provide access to disaster unemployment assistance for workers, including self-employed individuals and contractors, who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, laid off or who’s individual or family circumstances have changed as a result of COVID-19 or government containment efforts
- Waive state waiting periods and work-search requirements to ensure that workers can get the assistance they need as soon as possible
- Set a minimum amount of assistance at parity with that of state unemployment compensation laws
- Assist states in the administration of this unemployment assistance
Additional federal legislation, currently in the works, but not yet confirmed, could address individual payments to American citizens and expanded support for unemployment benefits distrusted through individual states.
Employment Security Department
The Employment Security Department (ESD) has enacted a series of emergency rules to help people and employers affected by COVID-19. For detailed instructions for accessing benefits, visit: esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19.
The graphic below offers “at-a-glance” information for which benefits someone might qualify for depending on their situation.
United Way-Community Foundation COVID-19 Community Response Fund
The Thurston Community Foundation and United Way of Thurston County have teamed up to create a “COVID-19 Community Response Fund.” The Fund is designed to rapidly mobilize and deploy resources to the people who are most vulnerable to the economic impacts of COVID-19 in Thurston County.
To donate or learn more about qualifications for receiving funds, visit: unitedway-thurston.org/covid-19
Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council
For people displaced from employment or interested in moving into a new career field, the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council (PacMtn) serves as the primary employment training provider and connector for our region.
The links below may be of help to individuals seeking new skills or employment options:
Community Action Council
Certain individuals may also qualify for assistance through the Thurston Community Action Council. The Council operates a variety of programs that can help low-income residents make rent payments, complete essential home repairs or obtain medical services. needhelppayingbills.com/html/thurston_county_assistance_pro.html
South Puget Sound Community College
Another option for worker training or retraining, SPSCC offers degrees and certificates in a variety of fields. The college will continue to offer programming through alternative delivery methods for the immediate future. spscc.edu
If you are a worker and/or current student at SPSCC, the College Foundation has launched a COVID-19 Support Fund at spscc.edu/foundation/covid-19-support-fund. Anyone can donate to this fund, and students who need emergency funding can apply through the existing Student Success Funds Application at spscc.edu/foundation/studentsuccessgrants/apply
Resources for Businesses & Employers
First, we want you to know we understand the challenges employers and businesses are facing, and we share your concerns. The Thurston Chamber recently surveyed local businesses, and as shown in the graph on the right, most are expecting major financial impact (70 of 80 respondents).
Business resource information is constantly evolving. Measures for direct payments to small business, loan guarantees and other topics are under active discussion in the US House and Senate now. Some existing resources available now are described below:
Employee Leave & Telework Guidance
Many employers are struggling with how to maintain operations and manage employees at this time. NASA has developed a chart that provides guidance on what actions an employer might take given different scenarios.
Economic Injury Worksheet
If you own or operate a business, please complete an Economic Injury Worksheet form. These forms may help qualifying businesses secure approval for low-interest, long-term repayment loans from the US Small Business Administration.
However, they may also help us as a region when the time comes to request and distribute state and federal economic injury funding. thurstoncountywa.gov/em
Resource Links for Washington State Business & Workers – Governor’s Office
The Governor’s Office has compiled a broad inventory of resources available for impacted businesses and workers. The fact sheet linked below addresses:
- Tax Filing Extensions
- Tax Penalty Waivers
- Export Assistance
- Unemployment Benefits
- Employment Alternatives (e.g. Shared Work, Partial Unemployment & Standby)
- Rapid Response Service
PTAC – Contracting Opportunities for Vendors and Suppliers
The Professional and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) helps local businesses navigate federal contracting opportunities, including many of the supplies and services the federal government will be purchasing through FEMA in response to the President’s recent declaration of a National Emergency. washingtonptac.org
Washington State Dept. of Commerce
The Department of Commerce has assembled a comprehensive set of links for all manner of specific COVID-19 questions and concerns.
SBA Federal Disaster Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering some Washington state counties low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses that are suffering substantial economic injury due to coronavirus. Small businesses that qualify are encouraged to apply online for a disaster loan. sba.gov
Business Insurance Questions
The Insurance Commissioner’s Office has produced responses to frequently-asked questions regarding business insurance, including event cancellation insurance. insurance.wa.gov/coronavirus-insurance-information-businesses
Chamber of Commerce Business Networking
Local networking is also important, as peer businesses may be able to offer insights or other resource information they’ve discovered while working through this situation. The Thurston Chamber of Commerce operates one such group. Go to facebook.com/groups/thurstonchambermembers and request to join.
You can also continue to access local resources, often the same people who helped many local businesses get started or grow.