Recent Updates

PPP Loan Update

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in partnership with the US Treasury, opened the preliminary Payroll Protection Program (PPP) application portal on Monday, January 11. This preliminary portal is focused on select minority and disadvantaged business institutions that serve clients seeking a “first-draw” PPP loan. We are awaiting further instructions for individual first-draw and second-draw PPP loan applicants. To get a head start preparing, please consider participating in one or more training webinars offered by the Washington State Business Development Center (WSBDC):

For more background information on the next round of PPP lending, check out the Washington State Department of Commerce: http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/links/crisis/covid-19-resources/ppp-summary-round2/

PPP/EIDL Loan Application Scam Alert

We have received reports of local businesses receiving unsolicited emails (potentially phishing in nature) from entities offering help with PPP and EIDL loan applications. DO NOT submit personal or business information to entities unknown to you. If you would like assistance, please contact your personal or business banker directly. If they are unable to serve you for any reason, please contact our business hotline at 1-800-821-6652 and our technical specialists will connect you with an SBA-approved lending institution. Operating hours are 9:30-3:30, Monday-Friday.

Business Smart Restart Toolkit Updated

Thurston Strong partner, the Thurston Chamber of Commerce, has updated the Smart Restart Toolkit to reflect recent changes associated with Governor Inslee’s Healthy Washington initiative. The toolkit provides information for Phase I and II operating procedures. Future updates will be provided as industry-specific guidance is released and more advanced reopening phases and allowances are released. For more info: https://thurstonchamber.com/smart-restart-toolkit/

Working Washington Business Grants Round Three Update

The Washington Department of Commerce recently announced results from the Working Washington Business Grant 3 (WWBG3) program. Thurston Strong was informed that 259 Thurston County entities were awarded funding totaling more than $3 Million. Ninety-three percent of the awards are in the form of $12,500 small business grants (under 50 employees), and the remaining seven percent in the form of $4,500 micro-business grants (under 10 employees).

The announcement indicates recipients include registered businesses and nonprofit organizations in all incorporated cities and unincorporated towns in Thurston County, including: Bucoda, Lacey, Olympia, Rochester, Rainier, Tenino, Tumwater and Yelm. Grants were predominately awarded to the businesses most-severely impacted by the newest round of operating restrictions (restaurants and bars, gyms, lodging facilities, theaters, arts venues, theaters, etc.).

In the original round of Working Washington Business Grant funding, 35 Thurston businesses and nonprofits received funding totaling approximately $311,500. Commerce subsequently awarded 53 Thurston County businesses $424,000 via $8,000 “Resiliency Grants”.

After that, Thurston Strong partners were able to attract and distribute over $10 Million in additional grant resources, including CARES Act, Washington Department of Commerce and City/County funding, and helped local entities secure over $100 Million in forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans (averaging $32,000 per loan).

The few businesses that had applied but did not receive grants through Thurston Strong before resources were exhausted were then forwarded to the Washington State Department of Commerce for inclusion in the WWBG3 program. Thurston Strong will continue to advocate for and pursue all grant and associated technical resources to help our local businesses, nonprofits and childcare providers fight on until conditions stabilize and we return to our upward economic trajectory.

Stay strong Thurston.

Update on Benefits for Unemployed Workers

On Dec. 27, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a one-time payment of $550 to many recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Later, the President signed the bill that changes and extends federal CARES Act unemployment benefits. Employment Security is now working to deliver Washington’s Pandemic Relief Payment (PRP) program and extended federal benefits. Track developments on ESD’s website: https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19.

For now, claimants should:

  • Continue filing weekly claims
  • Watch for updates on esd.wa.gov/covid and messages in eServices
  • Do not call the unemployment claims center with questions – call volume remains high

The new federal legislation includes an extra $300 per week for eligible claimants receiving benefits from any unemployment program. The extra payment is called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Claimants who are eligible for benefits from the week ending Jan. 2, 2021, to the week ending March. 13, 2021, will receive the extra amount.

Update on Resources for Business and Nonprofit Operators

Definitive rules for the second-draw SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) remain pending. We will post details here when available. If you would like to track progress real-time, please:

New Business and Worker Resources in 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act

Last night, Congress approved the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act. While final rules won’t be issued for days or weeks, here are some items we’re tracking:

Additional Insights Regarding New Federal Resources

The US Chamber of Commerce has provided updated information on the PPP, EIDL and other business assistance/resource programs. To learn more, visit https://www.uschamber.com/report/guide-small-business-covid-19-emergency-loans#foura.

PPP Business Loan Program Expanded:

  • Billions have been added to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. Entities who received either loan in the first round are eligible to apply again through a “second draw
  • PPP applicants can apply (and have loans forgiven) for higher amounts as the range of eligible expenses has been expanded to include supplier costs [restaurants], worker protections [PPE], software [tools that make doing business easier] and property damage
  • Economic development organizations [501(c)(6)] and DMOs DO qualify for PPP loans
  • Forgiven PPP loans (grants) are NOT counted as taxable income
  • New PPP Loans under $150k: one-page application and reduced submittal requirements
  • SBA has 10 days from adoption of Act (TBD) to issue clarifying administrative rules

Other Business Tax Relief:

  • $15 billion to support live entertainment venues, agents, cultural institutions such as theaters and museums with 500 or fewer FTE (cannot also apply for a new PPP loan)
    • $2 billion of these funds are reserved for entities with 50 or fewer FTE employees
    • Initial grant can total up to $10 million per eligible business. A supplemental second grant, worth half the amount of the first, may also be available if funds are available
    • Grant amount based on 45% of recipient’s 2019 gross earned revenue
    • Priority in the first 14 days given to businesses who faced 90% or more of losses of earned revenue between 4/1 to 12/31/20, compared to the same period in 2019
    • Priority for next 14 days given to companies who faced 70% or more of losses of earned revenue between 4/1 to 12/31/20, compared to the same period in 2019
    • Special formula allowances available for seasonal businesses
    • Funds can be used to cover all the same new covered costs of a PPP loan plus payments to independent contractors (not to exceed $100K annual pay), maintenance costs, licensing, insurance premiums, advertising, theatrical production costs, and capital expenditures incurred 3/1/20 to 12/31/21
    • Recipient would not include grant funds in their taxable gross income
    • Grant funds cannot be used to purchase real estate, pay loans taken out after 2/15/20, investment or re-lend, or for electoral activity and lobbying expenditures
    • Applications are made to the SBA and the SBA Administrator to issue guidance within 21 days of bill’s enactment
  • Business tax /credit  extended through March 2021 (payroll tax, sick and family leave)
  • Increased fee schedule proposed for physicians (more federal funding for public payers)
  • $10B allocated for childcare (to help replace parent copay, fund technical training)

Impacted Worker Support:

  • Key unemployment benefits extended to March 14 and or 21, 2021 (with total eligibility expanded from 39 to 50 weeks)
  • IRS tax credits extended for 2020 returns ($1,200 for joint filers under $150k annual income)

Thurston Strong will provide pertinent updates as formal rules are adopted and the programs above are announced or launched.

In the meantime, the National Development Council (NDC) is offering a free webinar to delve deeper into the appropriations and programs contained within the new Act. The webinar starts at noon on Wednesday, December 23. To register, visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8424597042298117389.

Working Washington Small Business Grant Portal Now Open

Washington State has added an additional $50 million to the Working Washington business grant promoted in our e-blast last week. Businesses are encouraged to apply by THIS FRIDAY, Dec. 11, to increase odds of being funded. See the Governor’s announcement below for additional info and links.


Gov. Inslee announces another $50 million for Working Washington business grants; priority deadline is Friday

Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday also announced an additional $50 million for the Working Washington grants, bringing the total amount for the third round to $100 million.

These additional funds will double the number of small businesses the state is able to aid.

Priority will be given to applications received by 5 p.m. Dec. 11. Businesses are encouraged to start their application today, especially if they think they’ll need technical assistance.

The Washington Small Business Development Center (WSBDC) out of Washington State University, which partnered to assist Commerce in this effort, has more than two dozen people actively responding to thousands of emails and answering hundreds of calls since the application portal opened. Due to the high volume of calls and emails, it may take them more than one day to respond. Businesses who wait beyond today to request help may not receive a response prior to the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday.

If Commerce is able to fund all the eligible applicants who submit by that time, the department may be able to consider eligible applicants who submit after Dec. 11.

Since the application opened for the current round of Working Washington grants, the state’s Department of Commerce has received about 16,000 applications with an estimated additional 34,000 applications that people have started pending in our system.

Businesses can apply for up to $20,000 to offset costs or expenses due to COVID-19. The grants are targeted primarily for small businesses with $5 million or less in annual revenue that have had to close or significantly curtail operations as a result of current or ongoing public health measures. Examples include full-service restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys, or music and event venues.

The WSBDC has hosted informational webinars to answer many of the most common questions and problems business owners are asking about. Watch the  recorded webinar in English or Spanish.

If you need assistance with the application, email bizgrants@commerce.wa.gov or call 360.725.5003. If you need assistance in a language other than English, our Business Resiliency partners are also available. Again, call and email volumes are high so it may take a day or more to get a response. Businesses who need help should reach out today to ensure our teams can respond in time for the business to complete the application by 5 p.m. on Friday.

Here are quick tips for businesses who want to apply.

  • Apply during off-peak hours such as early morning or late evening. Site volumes can be very high during the day.
  • Double-check your spelling and keep an eye on both your inbox and spam folder for follow-up emails. The verification email will come from “Working Washington 3 Grant Program Team.” Once you receive that email, make sure it’s added to your safe sender list so it goes to your inbox and not your spam folder.
  • We recommend completing the application on your desktop computer using Chrome web browser.
  • Read the instructions on the Grant Overview page of the application carefully.
  • If you’re applying on behalf of multiple businesses, you’ll need a separate UBI number and separate e-mail address for each. 
  • Clear your cache before starting a new application. If you are submitting multiple applications, you may find your computer preventing you from starting a fresh application.
  • This article describes the steps for clearing your cache in all browser types. If you don’t know what kind of browser you’re using, you should be able to see the name of it under the icon on your desktop screen.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Not quite sure how to answer one of the application questions? Having trouble with the portal website? We know the process can feel overwhelming or confusing. Our partners at the WSBDC are standing by to help. You can email bizgrants@commerce.wa.gov or call 360.725.5003. Call and email volumes are high so it may take a day or so to get a response. If you need assistance in a language other than English, our Business Resiliency partners are also available.
  • Gather your information before starting your application. The list of documents and information you’ll need is pretty short, but it helps to have it ready.
    • W-9 requires your Taxpayer Identification Number (EIN or social security)
    • W-9 forms can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf
    • Copy of valid government issued photo I.D.
    • Applicant W-9 Request for taxpayer Identification Number
    • For Tribal-member owned businesses: license or certification if business activity is conducted outside the tribal jurisdiction; letter or certification from the tribe recognizing you as a business if business activity is within the tribal jurisdiction.
    • Business gross revenues for 2019 and 2020. You will enter this information in the application and attest to it, but we do not require documentation. (NOTE: Some grant or loan programs require businesses to have been in operation a certain amount of time. This grant program does not have an eligibility requirement associated with business start date.)
    • NAICS code or clear description of your primary business activity. A NAICS code is helpful, but not necessary. If you have never used a NAICS code, you can learn more here: https://www.naics.com/what-is-a-naics-code-why-do-i-need-one/

Dislocated Worker Updates

Please see updates below regarding Employment Security Department rules and programs.


Job search requirements extended

The governor, with support from the Legislature, has announced that job search requirements will remain suspended through Jan. 19, 2021. This means the soonest claimants will be seek work is the week of Jan. 24. We are committed to helping you understand the requirements before you need to report job searches in your weekly claim. Learn more on our job search requirements page. For more information, see the ALERTS at www.esd.wa.gov.

Waiting week requirements

Additionally, the waiting week requirement will remain suspended until Dec. 21. This means unless further action is taken, new claims with an effective date of claim of Dec. 27, or later, will require an unpaid waiting week. This will not affect current claims.

Do you need to restart your claim?

If you applied for unemployment benefits earlier this year, and you haven’t submitted a weekly claim for five or more weeks, you can restart your claim online. Go to esd.wa.gov/unemployment/restart-your-claim for instructions and tips.

New to unemployment

If you haven’t applied for unemployment recently, go to esd.wa.gov/unemployment and follow the steps to apply. Read this guide to avoid common issues before applying.

Working Washington Small Business Grant Portal Now Open

Round 3 small business grant applications are now being accepted. For businesses with less than $5M annual revenue. Grants up to $20,000. Emphasis on businesses most impacted by recent restrictions (e.g. restaurants, gyms, bowling alleys, music and events venues, etc.). Visit Washington State Department of Commerce link below for details. These grants are NOT administered through Thurston Strong.

http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/working-washington-round-3/