Pierce County investing millions in relief to businesses

TACOMA -- Pierce County is putting more than $150 million back into the community with the help of federal relief dollars.

The Pierce County Council voted this week on setting priorities for how to use nearly $158 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) funding.

The council directed funding to the following areas:

Public Health Emergency Response - $67 Million
Economic Stabilization and Recovery Programs - $30 Million
Community Response and Resilience - $23 Million
Essential Government Services - $15 Million
Contingency Reserve - $23 Million

Public Health Emergency Response Category includes funds for diagnostic and serological testing, countywide virus surveillance, contact tracing, and housing for isolation and quarantine. This category also funds proactive testing and disease prevention, access to and training on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), local healthcare system capacity, data collection analysis and reporting, and public education programs.

Economic Stabilization and Recovery focuses on projects to preserve and support jobs, support for micro, small and medium-sized businesses, workforce training, broadband and wi-fi services, and efforts to buy goods and services from local suppliers.

Community Response and Resilience places a focus on the food, shelter, behavioral health, family services and transportation needs of the community. This category also includes targeted amounts for domestic and family violence survivors, as well as veterans.

The Essential Government Services section supports the COVID-19 response effort of Pierce County government for the courts, and other core services impacted by the pandemic. There are also funds in this category to support the operations of other governments in the region.

Lastly, the Council approved a $23 Million contingency reserve fund for those needs that emerge over the weeks ahead.

“We let our citizens know we’re not just sitting with $158 million in the bank. We’re actually getting it out to people,” said Pierce County Council Chairman, Doug Richardson.

For business owners, they say this could be a huge help.

“When the county steps up to take care of their people, that’s what small business and small town is about,” said Amanda Dominguez.

Dominguez owns Hollywood Boarding and Grooming in Gig Harbor.

She says she received dollars from the county through a loan program, and it’s helped her get by.

She says she hopes these new relief funds help other businesses get back on their feet.

The CARES Act funds must be fully spent by December 30, 2020 or will be forfeited back to the federal government.