Some business fallout from COVID-19 shutdown
May 21, 2020
DAYTON–VS Mainstreet, formerly Village Shoppes, has announced its closure at the May Port of Columbia Board of Commissioners meeting.
Port of Columbia Director Jennie Dickinson met with vendors to gauge interest in working as a cooperative. No other businesses have announced they're closing. Some have reported increased business with the community shopping more local due to the stay-at-home order. The Port continues to try and promote local business through the shop local campaigns in partnership with the Dayton Chamber of Commerce.
"I'm proud of our businesses and proud of our community," Dickinson said. "The efforts people have made to shop local are making a difference, you can feel it. A lot of our businesses ended up getting Paycheck Protective Program (PPP) loans which is really good, and non-profits, who would have not been able to operate, the ones that have staff, like the theater and The Club and some of those organizations." Dickinson reported to have worked for a small grant to help allow non-profits to be eligible for the PPP loan.
The State of Washington grant for small businesses applications have not been approved yet, but Dickinson is expecting they will within next couple weeks. The applications are handled through the Port and once approved, contract with the Port. If most are accepted, Dickinson anticipated they would have contracts with 20 or more businesses. These grants are state money handled through the Port. Money doesn't usually come for small businesses through the Port, but these are unusual circumstances, according to Dickinson.
A new opportunity for (Community Development Block Grant) CDBG Funding has come available. This fund is usually only for low-income communities for which Columbia County usually doesn't qualify for. However, because of COVID-19, this a special grant contract for just over $6,000 funds granting money to businesses. The commissioners approved. Dickinson spoke of an additional small grant for small businesses that she is also pursuing.
The ability for port businesses to request rent deferrals have been approved by the commissioners. Two of the businesses were able to pay, despite asking previously for deferrals. Two additional port businesses have asked for deferrals.
Dickinson was happy to report that currently during the Stay Home Order issued by Governor Inslee that "no port businesses are planning to close at this time...Everybody needs to be careful, so we can keep businesses open."
Dickinson reported the Rock Hill Industrial Park businesses mostly are agricultural related or essential, so they have remained open. A few are struggling due to slowed business.
Lyons Ferry Marina has made some upgrades to RV hookups with improvements in the infrastructure for electricity and water. The boat launch and restaurant are open. RV sites are allowed with distance between them.
The Blue Mountain Station's Humble Honey business is booming and sells to local stores and through a distributor to some major stores. The Co-op Market business is up. Mama Monecelli's candy business is down. More hand sanitizer from XO Alambic & Red Band Cellars will be disbursed through Public Health through a grant for businesses for the first week when they reopen.
CWW Railroad received a small grant from Utilities and Transportation Commission for signage for signal changes from Dayton to Wallula. The train has been coming through town moving seed for Seneca.
Bike Trail Concept Plan will be reviewed by the commissioners and presented to the Bike Trail Steering Committee at the next meeting in June. After that time, the plan will be to share it with the public.