Recent Updates

Center for Business and Innovation: One-Stop Shop for Business Support

Whether you’re thinking about opening a business, need help maintaining or growing the one you already operate, or want to make a full-scale change, we have you covered. The Thurston County Economic Development (EDC) Center for Business and Innovation offers a full complement of courses and personalized training – and most of the programming is free or underwritten in response to the pandemic. For more information, see below:

Grow a Business

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Expands Flexibility

The PPP was amended on June 5 by the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 to expand some of the program’s provisions. The window to spend borrowed funds was extended from eight weeks to 24 weeks, and the repayment window for non-forgiven portion of loans was extended from two years to five years. The amendment reduces mandatory payroll spend of borrowed funds from 75% to 60%. Further, the amendment allows for forgiveness of loans even in some cases where the business is unable to restore its entire workforce.

There are over $100 billion available funds in the program’s budget, so businesses are still encouraged to apply. The PPP has injected $12 billion into Washington State’s economy so far and may be a valuable boost to small businesses striving to preserve their workforces through the downturn.
Visit the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program site:

Thurston Strong Partners Taking Steps to Help Workers and Employers

Over the last few months, Thurston Strong partners have been working to respond to and address challenges caused by COVID-19 and resulting stay-at-home order. While it is impossible to mitigate the unprecedented scale of impact our business and workers have experienced, we are doing what we can to make a dent based on data, your feedback, and available resources. The following is a partial list of response actions. Additional information on response and recovery efforts will be posted in here in the days and weeks ahead.

Thurston Economic Development Council

  • Business Hotline
    • 11,000 points of contact and counseling since March
    • Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant (650 applications)
    • City of Lacey Small Business Grant (320 applications)
  • SBA Grant for Women’s Business Center
    • Women’s Center: 198 clients, 49 referrals and support services
    • Partner with SPSCC, Lacey Makers’ Space no-cost training, Expand Let’s Talk Business Webinar
  • BEST (Business Enterprise Startup Training)
    • 18 students, hiring more coaches in order to expand capacity
  • ScaleUp Thurston
    • ScaleUp:  43 Thurston clients; 100 WA state (at capacity) clients
    • Career Bridge to help dislocated business owners retain businesses
  • PTAC: 130 hours of tech assistance, 5 events with 933 businesses attended
    • Promoted PPP program to 68 non-profit agencies in Thurston County

Thurston Chamber of Commerce

  • Tying Our Community Back Together campaign provides an opportunity to celebrate reopening
  • Business Essential’s – Weekly Webinar on conducting business during COVID
  • Spotlight videos highlighting reopening and successful shifts in business models
  • Provide Technical guidance and resource on reopening
  • Providing rehiring and staff onboarding resources for business reopening

Thurston VCB

  • Mitigate and Inform: Keep travelers updated; connect members to resources; liaise with industry and community; Fireside chats; takeout/delivery/gift card promotion; promote digital experiences
  • Plan for Recovery: Share with Task Force and state partners; Phased, responsible re-entry; get early travelers back
  • Restart: Maintain support of industry, government; build brand, civic pride; book future business

City of Olympia

  • Seed investments in Thurston Strong and United Way response initiatives
  • Providing staff support to the EDC’s business hotline
  • Proactively patrolling areas with closed businesses
  • Expanding cleaning operations, planning for social distancing Downtown
  • Launching Artists on Board program
  • Allowing utility and B+O tax payment deferrals
  • Streamlining the temporary use permitting process

City of Lacey

  • 110 grants issued through Lacey small business stabilization fund
  • Funding for United Way COVID-19 Fund
  • Utility billing fee suspension, no late fees, or disconnections
  • B&O tax deferral until July 31
  • Temporary sign ordinance revision allowing commercial banners and sandwich boards
  • Continuation of inspections for essential construction projects
  • Funding for Regional Economic Recovery Task Force
  • Open restaurant inventory and map with locations, hours, service options
  • Open business listing for medical, food, shelter, and transportation

City of Tumwater

  • Suspended water shutoffs and late payment penalties
  • Extended B&O filing deadline to July 31, 2020
  • Enacted temporary lift of plastic bag ban
  • $150k emergency funds to human services + economic recovery

Thurston County

  • Operate and continually update Coronavirus website with health-related info
  • Extension of development permit applications
  • Inspection and permit processes continued through e-inspections
  • Liaisons serve as contacts for businesses with questions about reopening
  • Commission advocacy for State financial support
  • Incorporation of Thurston Strong goals into priority objectives
  • Commissioners Vote for Variance to move to Phase 2 of the Safe Start Plan


Workforce Impacts by the Numbers

Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) recently posted unemployment data for April. While we remain in a fluid situation, this early data shows what we’ve been experiencing looks like in start relief. The first graph below shows how quickly jobs were lost as the impacts of the pandemic first settled in (numbers for all Thurston cities are similar to Olympia). The second graph shows how Thurston compares to all 39 Washington State counties overall. Additional data will be posted here – e.g. by industry, gender, socioeconomic strata – as it becomes available.

Olympia Unemployment Rate, Jan-Apr 2020


Unemployment Rate by County, April 2020

Good News! Talking Cedars is Hiring.

Talking Cedars

Talking Cedars, a new high-end restaurant partnership between the Chehalis Tribal Enterprises and Heritage Distilling, plans to hire about 80 people prior to its projected July 2020 opening. Talking Cedars, located in Rochester, is a tribal-owned business with a competitive compensation package and supportive team environment. If you or someone you know is looking for employment in the food or craft distilling industry, check out the links below or email for more information.

A job fair has been scheduled for June 10-11, 10 AM-3 PM at Talking Cedar Parking Lot, 19770 Sargent Road Southwest, Rochester.  To learn more and register for an interview:

Front House Positions

Back of House Positions

Retail and Host Staff Positions

Thank you to PacMtn Workforce Development Council, Thurston Chamber, and everyone else who is helping market and fill these employment opportunities.