Recent Updates

New Small Business, Nonprofit and Agriculture Grant Resource Available Now

Thurston Strong is pleased to announce a new round of grant assistance for small businesses, nonprofit organizations and food system entities impacted by the COVID pandemic. Pandemic challenges persist and many independent enterprises and service organizations have been disproportionately impacted. This round of funding provides an extended bridge to sustain our entrepreneurial and employment tapestry, while adding capacity for entities who continue to answer the call for emergency assistance.

Business and Nonprofit grants are funded by Thurston County through a portion of the County’s federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation. Business and Food System grants are administered by the Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC); Nonprofit grants by the Community Foundation (CF).

Please review each section carefully to determine which grant option might fit your situation.

Prospective Applicants

Please keep in mind that ARPA rules require grant applicants to demonstrate COVID-specific financial harm – i.e., applicants will need to provide documentation of economic injury such as lost revenues or increased costs due to COVID. Grants will only be issued to qualifying entities that can confirm COVID related revenue losses or expenditures. We understand this can be confusing and have reactivated our support center. Please call 1-888-821-6652 for any questions or technical assistance.

Microbusiness Grants
Approximately $5 million available for small and minority-owned businesses. All Thurston County based businesses are eligible for grants up to $10,000 based on demonstrated COVID-related impact. Grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. Disproportionately impacted industries are encouraged to apply early, including: accommodations and food service; entertainment and recreation/tourism; personal services; small scale manufacturing; and select professional services.

This grant is administered by the Thurston Economic Development Council. For more information and/or to apply, please visit https://www.thurstonstrong.org/guidelines-thurston-strong-small-business-grant/.

Nonprofit Grants

Approximately $810,000 available. All Thurston County based 501c3 nonprofits are eligible for grants up to $20,000 based on demonstrated COVID-related impact. Grants are available on a first-come, first-served based until funding is exhausted. Nonprofits actively involved in ongoing COVID-response and recover efforts are encouraged to apply early. This grant is administered by The Community Foundation. For more information about Thurston Strong grants and/or to apply, please visit https://www.thurstonstrong.org/thurston-strong-nonprofit-grant-guidelines/.

Food Systems Grants

Approximately $1 million total available on a first-come, first-served basis. All Thurston County based food system partners are eligible. This includes farms, cooperatives, farmers markets and any entity involved in food processing and/or value ad production that uses Thurston County based ag inputs. Individual business grants available up to $10,000 based on demonstrated COVID-related impact. Farmers’ Markets and Food Cooperatives are eligible for higher funding depending on size of operation.

This grant is administered by the Thurston Economic Development Council in cooperation with the Thurston WSU Ag Extension Office. For more information and/or to apply, please visit https://www.thurstonstrong.org/thurston-strong-ag-business-grant-guidelines/.

New BIPOC Business Liaison

We are pleased to welcome Thurston County’s new BIPOC Business Community Liaison, Mayra Pena! Mayra will operate out of the Thurston Economic Development Council and is available to support minority businesses (and prospective businesses!) throughout Thurston County. Her work will help us connect more BIPOC businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs connect with each other, the community and the resources they need for success. Mayra’s position and role is an integral part of the Thurston Strong Recovery and Reset Plan – building back stronger and more equitably. Funding for the position is provided by Thurston County through its federal ARPA allocation. Mayra previously served as the Communications and Outreach Director for the Thurston Asset Building Coalition (ABC) where she helped facilitate improvements in health equity, economic advancement, social justice, housing and food security. Prior to that, Mayra held business and communications positions in Yelm and Lacey and is familiar with the broader Thurston County community. Mayra is bilingual (Spanish/English) and tech-savvy. If your organization would like to connect with Mayra, please reach out at mpena@thurstonedc.com or via our Business Hotline at 1-888-821-6652.

New Thurston Strong Business and Nonprofit Grants Coming Soon!

Thurston Strong will soon announce a new round of business and nonprofit grants to help those most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and resulting cessation or reduction in normal business operations. Thanks to America Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding provided by Thurston County, the Cities of Olympia and Tumwater and South Puget Sound Community College, Thurston Strong, anticipates reinvesting at least $10-$12 million into the local economy over the next year. We are currently awaiting final federal guidelines for eligible applicants and fund usage. A few of the programs we are developing to support impacted organizations and displaced/transitioning workers are outlined below. Subscribers will be notified when resources become available in the coming weeks.

IMPACTED WORKER PROGRAMS

Thurston Job Champions Program
  • Connect impacted workers to employment within short-staffed nonprofits
  • Thurston Strong covers employee salary for one year
  • PacMtn/Community Foundation will identify and connect employees with qualifying nonprofits
  • Outcomes: Help workers find new career pathways; support and expand nonprofit impact
Dislocated Worker Skills and Certificate Training
  • Prepaid training, tuition for dislocated workers
  • Short-term certifications in construction, health care, technology, logistics, office and other fields
  • Supported by South Puget Sound Community College, PacMtn, Thurston Chamber, other partners
  • Outcomes: Accelerate worker retraining; address local labor shortages

BUSINESS AND NONPROFIT GRANTS

*Please note, documentation of COVID-19 impacts will be required for all ARPA-funded grants. This could include proof of quarterly losses year over year, demonstration of steep increases in operating costs or other factual evidence. Specific requirements will be included in the grant application when ready. Agriculture and Food Market Reset Grants
  • For impacted farmers, food producers, food hub partners
  • Fund administrators: WSU Extension, Thurston EDC
  • Eligible expenses:
    • Offset documented losses related to COVID impact
    • Offset costs associated with onboarding new or returning employees
    • Offset costs associated with market adaptation
Minority Enterprise Investment Grants
  • For minority enterprises that were operating pre-COVID now working to stay open or restart
  • Fund administrator: Thurston EDC
  • Eligible expenses:
    • Offset documented losses related to COVID impact
    • Offset costs associated with onboarding new or returning employees
    • Offset costs associated with market adaptation
Business Relaunch Grants
  • For eligible microbusinesses that were operating pre-COVID now working to stay open or restart
  • Fund administrator: Thurston EDC
  • Eligible expenses:
    • Offset documented losses related to COVID impact
    • Offset costs associated with onboarding new or returning employees
    • Offset costs associated with market adaptation
Nonprofit Stabilization Grants
  • For nonprofits that were operating pre-COVID now working to stay open or restart
  • Fund administrator: The Community Foundation
  • Eligible expenses:
    • Offset documented losses related to COVID impact
    • Offset costs associated with onboarding new or returning employees
    • Offset costs associated with market adaptation/increased operating costs

Thurston EDC Advancing Thurston Strong Inclusive Economy Goal

A major goal area in the Thurston Strong Economic Reset Plan is to build a more inclusive economy. To help jump-start that goal, the Thurston Economic Development Council is creating a new Minority Business liaison position with support, in part, from Thurston County pass-through ARP funding. This senior-level position will be housed at the Center for Business and Innovation in the EDC’s South Puget Sound Community College Lacey location. The liaison will add a new dimension to the EDCs’ existing technical business support team and be responsible for identifying, engaging and creating expanded opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs. The liaison will also identify opportunities to remove barriers to entry and expansion, facilitate networking and expand access to capital. Although hosted at the EDC, the liaison will be available to support individual and collective minority business initiatives across all jurisdictions in Thurston County. Stay tuned for a recruitment announcement!

New Washington State Small Business Flex (Loan) Fund Portal Now Open

Small* business owners and nonprofits can start applying for low interest loans of up to $150,000 through the newly-launched Small Business​ Flex Fund. The Fund is a public-private partnership aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits recover and grow. The program is operated through the Washington Department of Commerce, with a foundational investment of $30 million. Eligible applicants will be connected with a pre-approved private lending institution. Qualifying businesses and nonprofits can apply for loans up to $150,000. Loans are available in 60- or 72-month loan terms at interest rates between 3-4.5%. The goal of the program is to ensure resources are available for creating business resiliency over the longer-term, post-COVID era. *Small = fewer than 50 employees / $3 million annual revenue. Culturally-appropriate in-language assistance available. If a business doesn’t qualify, they will be connected to a community organization that can assist with finding other resources.

Mobile Vaccine Clinic Coming to LoveOly Summer Fest THIS Saturday, July 17

If you’ve been on the fence, too busy or otherwise distracted from getting a COVID-19 vaccine, we might have a perfect solution for you. On Saturday, July 17, from noon to 6 PM, Thurston Public Health is offering a mobile vaccine clinic adjacent to the LoveOly Summer Fest. Here’s what you need to know:
  • Mobile clinic located steps from beer garden in front of Drees in Downtown Olympia
  • Offering the Pfizer vaccine, which means children 12 years and older are eligible
  • Vaccines are free, no insurance required
  • Walk-ups welcome
  • ANY form of identification acceptable (do not need citizenship or driver’s license)
  • The mobile clinic will return July 31 (same place/same location) for your second/final shot
If you’re out of town this weekend, don’t worry. The mobile clinic will return to LoveOly Fest at the same time and location July 31st. After your first injection we can help you schedule a second dose at one of many nearby locations a few weeks later. The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can return to normal or even better community gatherings, shopping, dining and JUST PLAIN FUN. Finally, while you’re downtown for the mobile clinic, don’t forget to have a bit of fun. Here’s what’s going on: https://downtownolympia.org/Events/LoveOly-Summer-Fest

Thurston Strong Business and Worker Resource Info Coming!

Sorry for the delay, but stay tuned, folks. We have additional resource support on the way for those most impacted and still struggling from COVID-19 impact impacts. We’re working through rules and regulations now and expect to have an announcement next week. Hang in there and stay tuned!