PUYALLUP, Wash. - On Friday, Pierce County will revert to Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan. Local lawmakers did not waste time putting together a plan to support businesses and save jobs.
The Pierce County Council unanimously approved the emergency ordinance late Tuesday evening. Chair Derek Young said the rollback announced Monday was a gut punch as many business owners who emerged from a difficult winter will soon face more challenges thanks to Phase 2 guidelines. Relief will come out of $4 million dollars taken from the county’s general fund.
In Puyallup, some business owners said they have seen too many shops shut down since last year.
"Today was already busier than it was yesterday," said Renee Quiett, co-owner of The Pink Chandelier.
Quiett said the store is a labor of necessity and love. After the pandemic stole her food service job last year, she and a partner bought the gift shop in the fall.
A grant from the county could help her stand up an online storefront, but Quiett worries the phased rollback could hit Puyallup hard.
"Businesses are going out of business and we definitely don’t want to be one of those," she said.
"It was a ghost town down here," Lashes Downtown owner Kayla Johnsen said.
Her business has been operational for five years, but it moved into a new location on South Meridian last March. The new storefront offered much more space than the previous location.
"We’d have only been allowed to have three people in that (previous) space," said Johnsen.
Personal service businesses like gyms, dance studios, non-profit organization, retailers, and others all have to cut indoor capacity to 25 percent under Phase 2.
Council Chair Young said the proposal was crafted in a matter of days and will pump $4 million from the general fund to help businesses avoid layoffs and push through what many hope is only a temporary rollback of restrictions.
The county plans to pay in return the $4 million to the general fund out of nearly $90 million in American Recovery Act relief passed by federal lawmakers this spring.
"We had a few clients decide they would take breaks while we’re going through this season," Johnsen said.
Quiett said she’s doing her best to keep her customers safe and hopes her customers feel safe enough to help keep downtown Puyallup open.
"Not only are you helping us build this space for you, but you’re keeping your tax dollars in Puyallup," she said.
Should County Executive Bruce Dammeier approve the ordinance, the county’s Economic Development Department would soon share how business owners could apply for grants.
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