Thurston Strong update presented to Olympia City Council | The JOLT

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By Danny Stusser

Olympia City Council received a presentation from Thurston Strong, the county-based economic recovery organization created after the start of the pandemic, who said businesses and organizations in the city of Olympia had received more $ 60 million in federal funding under the Paycheck Protection Program. (PPP).

The numbers came from an update on Thurston County’s ongoing reset and recovery program. Jason Robertson of J Robertson and Co, who has helped facilitate the work of the organization, presented details at the regular city council meeting on Tuesday, May 18.

During the first phase of the program, over $ 100 million in PPP loans were disbursed across the county. Of the $ 100 million, Olympia businesses and organizations have raised more than $ 60 million in federal loans, with an average loan amount of $ 32,000 for each business owner. The remaining $ 40 million was distributed among businesses and organizations across the rest of Thurston County.

Typically, most PPP loans had to shift from loans to grants, through a loan cancellation process. Robertson said this has allowed businesses and organizations to continue to employ nearly 7,000 people.

During his report, Robertson presented a detailed map that showed the distribution of loans in the county [see images above this story]. The different icons on the map also represent the different types of businesses and organizations that have benefited from federal loans.

Grant funds common to cities

In addition to P3s loans, he said Thurston County, along with the towns of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater, have contributed their federal transfer funding to raise $ 10 million to create a direct impact collective fund.

The fund has been distributed to childcare, microenterprises, catering, retail, agriculture and non-profit organizations. By 2020, the Direct Impact Fund had paid out nearly $ 3 million to child care providers.

Robertson explained that improving and maintaining a child care system is necessary because it “ticks several boxes.” He said childcare provides additional support for parents working as frontline workers, and added that daycares are losing money due to the coronavirus pandemic. He believes that potential daycare closures would impact not only the families served, but also their employees, most of whom are women and people of color.

Future plans

Thurston Strong was formed in March 2020 to provide disaster recovery assistance and is expected to end operations in 24 months. It’s “a bloated version of what we created in 2017, the Thurston Economic Alliance’s strategic economic development plan,” said Robertson. The JOLT. This document was the “very first” comprehensive economic development plan for the county.

Thurston Strong focuses on improving three key areas, including building an inclusive economy, economic resilience and economic expansion.

As part of his plan to create a more inclusive economy, Thurston Strong hopes to provide more opportunities for people of different socio-economic backgrounds, genders and races. Their plan targets the underprivileged and those belonging to the minority. Robertson said Thurston Strong plans to create a business development council for minorities. The new council will be responsible for creating partnerships with business advocates and creating systemic policies and structures.

In addition, the organization also plans to create a local community development finance institution (CDFI). This move will allow business owners to have increased access to capital, especially for underfunded entrepreneurs.

Robertson explained that the organization seeks to support the employment of people with “a living wage given that most of those who lost their jobs during the pandemic were low-income earners. “If we rebuild, can we also rebuild better career opportunities and options for people,” said Robertson.

While fostering local economic growth, Olympia Director of Economic Development Mike Reid reiterated that there is also a need to encourage work and cooperation at the regional level as COVID-19 “doesn’t care about borders ”.

Council member Dani Madrone and Pro Mayor Tem Clark Gilman also expressed enthusiasm for Olympia’s economic recovery, especially with the creation of a local CDFI lender. Gilman said, “I can see this is leading to fair growth. We focus on community benefits, resilience and safety for our residents.

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