Relief in works for Oak Harbor businesses

The city of Oak Harbor is partnering with Island County and the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“This is a very quickly evolving process,” City Administrator Blaine Oborn said during Wednesday’s teleconferenced council workshop. “Rules are coming out and programs are being updated.”

The city of Oak Harbor has not yet received federal CARES Act funding but is anticipating it will be awarded $689,100.

Based on preliminary analysis that the city has conducted, the COVID-19 related expenses the city has experienced are expected to utilize 50 percent of the CARES Act funding, and the city will allocate the other half to small businesses that have been impacted during the health crisis.

The city is planning to combine part of the CARES Act funding with money from Island County as a North Whidbey economic relief program, with an initial contribution from the county estimated at $333,000.

Island County Com-missioner Jill Johnson first proposed using the CARES Act funding for the joint fund and city officials agreed to organize the effort. Total for the economic relief is estimated at $677,550.

The city expects to allocate $50,000 of the relief funding to the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce for administration and marketing costs and $17,550 in administrative costs for the city.

The city expects to have about $600,000 total left over for small business grants.

The chamber estimates that there are about 3,500 business in North Whidbey.

“We think we can (provide help for) about 10 percent of those business,” Oborn said.

“I think when we look at the this we’re going to try and catch some of the business that didn’t qualify for the paycheck protection program.”

Oborn estimates the maximum that a business could receive in aid to be $15,000.

The business that are eligible would be located in the 98277 zip code.

Oborn said the city would be targeting business with fewer than 50 employees. The business must have been operating for one full calendar year as of March 2019 and have experienced a loss of income or increased expenditures due to COVID-19.

The Washington State Department of Commerce stated that only expenses incurred from March 1 to Oct. 31 are eligible for reimbursement.

The executive director of the Main Street Association, the director of the Chamber Executive Committee and Oak Harbor city council members or employees are not eligible for grant money.

The city expects to be able to accept applications from businesses in early June.

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