Recent Updates

Washington State Pursuing Federal Lost Wages Assistance for Workers

Governor Inslee has announced that the Employment Security Department (ESD) will apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) by Friday, Aug. 21. The Lost Wages Assistance program is a temporary emergency measure to provide additional unemployment benefits to eligible claimants

Upon approval, this will allow ESD to provide an additional $300 per week for three weeks to those who have lost work due to the COVID-19 crisis and are receiving unemployment benefits.

The benefit is currently time-limited to only a three-week period, between July 26 and Aug. 15, 2020, and not everyone who has filed an unemployment claim will be eligible. ESD will continue to work with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor to pursue any additional funds for Washingtonians that may remain after the initial three-week period of benefits are distributed.

A press release and FAQ on this program is posted at will be http://www.esd.wa.gov/newsroom.

Local Business Resiliency Videos Now Posted at New “Thurston Stories” Site

Wondering how local enterprises are getting through this difficult time?  Take a look at some stories from around Thurston County at: www.thurstonstories.com/. Or visit the YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_GjRQHrrZfuwYOtQbpRd0w.

Featured businesses include Gabbi’s Cards and Comics, the Port restaurant, Orca Books and more.

Many thanks to Experience Olympia and Beyond for organizing this effort and sharing these inspirations stories of support and resiliency.

Thurston Strong Extends Support for Small Businesses and Childcare Providers

Over the past month, Thurston Strong partners have provided over $1.1 million in grant support to local childcare providers and small businesses. The majority of this funding comes from federal CARES Act dollars approved by Congress and allocated to individual States earlier this year. Major pass-through investors include Thurston County and the Cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater. These totals do not include prior grant funding provided through the City of Lacey or Working Washington Grant program offered by Washington State.

Specific Thurston Strong resource contributions include:

  • Micro-business grants ($600,000 – over 400 businesses served)
  • Childcare provider grants ($521,600 – over 120 childcare providers served)
  • PPE gear (64,000 masks, 765 gallons of sanitizer and 150 no-touch thermometers – over 800 businesses, non-profits and other institutions served)

While these grants can’t replace or fully-mitigate the financial impacts suffered by small businesses and childcare providers, they do serve several interim purposes including:

  • Building a temporary financial bridge for small businesses and essential care providers until more assistance arrives or the virus subsides, and conditions begin to return to normal
  • Ensuring safe and adequately-staffed childcare options for essential worker families
  • Circulating federal dollars through the local economy

Micro-business grant and childcare funding is expected to last through August. For more information, please visit thurstonstrong.org.

Childcare Grant Recipient Feedback

  • As a single mom, I solely depend on childcare. It is the only reason I’m able to work to provide for my two children. I would be completely out of work without it.
  • Without childcare, I would not be able to work as much. I know I’m not alone in feeling immensely grateful. For my family, it has been a lifesaver and a true staple in allowing me to continue to provide care to the patients in our community.
  • Thank you for your tremendous support of childcare in our community. The financial impact of the pandemic on our organization has been significant. New staffing requirements, mitigation procedures, and school closures have worked together to increase the costs of providing high quality, licensed care.
  • The support from Thurston Strong will play a key role in enabling us to continue operating childcare sites throughout our region. This service is critical for parents returning to work as well as children who need support in both academic and social/emotional skill building.
  • Thank you Thurston Strong for being here to support our work. It takes a village!

Business Grant Recipient Feedback

  • We cannot thank you enough for coming to our rescue being one of your grant recipients.  This has been the worst hit our small business of 15 years has ever seen.
  • THANK YOU. With this grant, I am able to pay July and August rent at my shop. My heart is full, and I am beyond thankful for the assistance from Thurston Strong.
  • Thank you for your hard work on this project, especially during these times where small businesses need some extra love.
  • Thurston Strong has been amazing in supporting small business through this pandemic!
  • Thank you so much; we are so incredibly appreciative of this support and your help with this. It truly does make a difference and will be put to good use, as we are currently implementing some new ideas/concepts to adapt to successfully serve our clientele and community while in-house dining is temporarily not a viable option.

Thurston Strong Micro-Business and Childcare Provider Grants Close Aug. 14

Thurston Strong will continue to accept applications for micro-business and childcare provider grants through August 14. At that time, we will evaluate capacity to extend or pause the program until additional funding can be secured. To review eligibility and apply, please visit www.thurstonstrong.org and click on the applicable link on the landing page. If you have already applied, there is no need to resubmit. All received applications are being reviewed and processed now.

Thurston Strong Resources Reaching Businesses

Over the past several weeks, Thurston Strong has offered a variety of resources to help business and institutional partners as they work through the challenges of remaining open or reopening to the public. To date:

  • We have served 800 entities seeking protective masks and hand sanitizer
  • Are reviewing nearly 400 (and counting) applications for microbusiness grants
  • Are reviewing over 120 (and counting) applications for childcare provider grants

For more information, or to apply, please visit thurstonstrong.org.

Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund Opportunity

In March 2020 the Arts Administrators of Color Network set up an Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund, which supports BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists & arts administrators impacted by COVID-19 through $200 microgrants. As of June 2020, over 11,000 arts leaders have express financial need through the emergency fund application. To apply or donate, please visit https://aacnetwork.org/

Upcoming Virtual Town Halls on Racial Justice

The City of Olympia has scheduled three additional virtual town halls to explore various aspects of racial justice. The July 30 event will focus on economic opportunity. To learn more or register to participate, follow the links below each event.

Racial Justice and Economic Opportunity
Thursday, July 30, 4 p.m. / https://bit.ly/2ZppxZv

Racial Justice and the Healthcare System
Thursday, August 6, 4 p.m. / https://bit.ly/30dbVzQ

Racial Justice and the Education System
Thursday, August 13, 4 p.m. / https://bit.ly/3iTJiQF

Thurston Strong Micro-Business Standup Grants Now Available

Thurston Strong partners are pleased to announce the availability of microgrant funding for Thurston County small businesses. The Thurston Strong Micro-Business Standup Grant is offered as a helping hand to small businesses attempting to reopen or remain open under Governor Inslee’s Safe Start program. There is simply not enough funding available to save or restore every business impacted by COVID-19. But we hope these small cash infusions will help small businesses gain traction as they take on the task of starting over or finding ways to operate in a new environment.

Priority targets include businesses with 25 or fewer employees (or FTE equivalent) that serve the public. Eligible businesses must have a physical location in Thurston County and a registered Unified Business Identification (UBI) Number. Other requirements apply.

All Thurston County businesses meeting eligibility requirements will be considered while funds last. The Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) will administer the program on behalf of Thurston Strong partners. Funding support has been provided by local jurisdictions (Thurston County, Cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater) through a dedicated portion of each jurisdiction’s CARES Act allocations.

For more information and to complete the online application, visit: www.thurstonstrong.org.

Thurston Strong Childcare Provider Grants Now Available

The Thurston Childcare Grant Program offers acute funding support to childcare providers attempting to reopen or remain open under Governor Inslee’s Safe Start program. While there is insufficient funding to mitigate the full economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hopeful that small grants may provide at least some measure of support as providers open and learn to operate under considerably different circumstances and requirements.

All Thurston County childcare providers meeting eligibility requirements will be considered. The Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) will administer the program on behalf of Thurston Strong partners. Applications will be received and processed in order, until funds are depleted. For more information and to complete the online application, visit: www.thurstonstrong.org.

Employment Security Department Updates

The Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) recently provided updates on various topics, including the items below. Please follow the links below if relevant to your situation.

SharedWork helps businesses avoid layoffs and ease into opening by paying employees partial unemployment benefits when their work hours are reduced. If you’re interested, you can learn more at esd.wa.gov/SharedWork. It’s especially appealing because, under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, SharedWork employees receive an additional $600/week. FPUC runs through July 25 but could be extended by the Federal Government.

Employers are encouraged to check their Employment Securing Benefits Statement. If you see an employee who should not be there and who you haven’t already reported to us, follow the instructions in the Employers section of www.esd.wa.gov/fraud.