On Monday, October 26, the Spokane Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the allocation of up to $10.8 million of CARES Act funding for a grant program to support local accommodation, food services, arts, entertainment and recreation industries.
The application period is expected to begin next week and will be available at www.spokanehospitalitygrant.org. Grant applications will be processed by the Innovia Foundation, who also facilitated the Open Together grant program offered earlier this year from CARES dollars. The target date for organizations to receive funding is by December 4, 2020.
The Spokane County Hospitality Relief Grant will be available to hospitality businesses who have lost revenue under restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Coronavirus. Businesses may apply for a grant of up to $20,000 to assist with operating costs and to help reopen and stay open safely in compliance with state and local guidance. $250,000 was also appropriated by the Commissioners to purchase and distribute PPE gloves to businesses due to limited availability and recent spike in pricing.
The leisure and hospitality industries make up 60% of the job losses in Washington State as a result of COVID-19. The latest numbers from the state Employment Security Department show 106,000 hospitality employees statewide are no longer working, about 8,000 of those are in Spokane County. Full service restaurants, delis, night spots and hotels in downtown Spokane have seen a steep revenue decline in 2020 with the loss of convention and tourism travel, and daily workforce customers who continue to work from home.
“Early on no one dreamed that we would still be in Phase 2 in November,” says DSP president, Mark Richard. “This grant is an opportunity to provide relief at a time when many are making tough choices about the future of their business.”
Local business associations – including the Downtown Spokane Partnership, Visit Spokane, The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber and Greater Spokane Incorporated – along with representatives from the Washington Hospitality Association, formulated and pitched the grant program to the County on behalf of their respective memberships. These organizations have all assisted in the administration of recent small business recovery grant programs across Spokane County and Washington State.
“Our first priority is to make sure that downtown businesses are able to stay viable today, so that we can help them prosper tomorrow,” says Richard “By working together on this regional effort, we are able to have access to funding that might not have been available just to downtown alone.” Richard says the DSP plans to reach out directly to every eligible recipient in the downtown area with assistance and guidance to help them apply.
About Downtown Spokane
The DSP is a private, non-profit membership organization that serves as Spokane’s central city advocate and service provider for the downtown Parking and Business Improvement District, dedicated to enhancing the quality and vitality of Downtown Spokane as the basis for a healthy region. The DSP accomplishes its mission through advocating for public policies, business and project development, quality planning, physical improvement projects, public safety, beautification, and marketing programs that ensure downtown’s continued success. To learn more, visit www.downtownspokane.org.