Pierce County offers reimbursement for expenses related to COVID-19 safety practices

PUYALLUP, Wash. - Money is tight right now for business owners and local organizations recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Expenses for supplies to meet the state’s Safe Start Washington plan guidelines are adding up. To help ease the burden, Pierce County is offering reimbursement grants to offset some of the costs.

Betty Capestany, economic development director, said applications for the Pierce County COVID-19 Adaptation Grant are open to any business or organization in Pierce County. Those interested in applying will have to submit a written letter explaining the changes made to meet state safety guidelines.

People will also have to submit an itemized expense report. Pierce County will match 50 percent of those expenses up to $8,000 reimbursement.

The grant can cover a variety of items from cleaning supplies, to new equipment, signs, menus and more.

“They’ve really been hit with all the changes that have gone on in the new COVID world. So, those expenses are really large. They’ve also been hit with restrictions to reopen, so that’s going to impact their revenue,” said Capestany.

James Beauchamp is the owner of F45 Training South Hill in Puyallup. He said he’s happy to see his clients again, even if he’s limited to five people per session.

Though clients are bringing money to his fitness studio, Beauchamp said it’s still expensive to run his business under the Safe Start Washington plan.

“Masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning sprays, the disinfectants—those are the items that we have to have and that we have to have in abundance in order to continue to meet the requirements,” said Beauchamp.

Beauchamp said he’s going to apply for the Adaptation Grant.

“Right now, anything we can get, any amount of money—whether it’s $250 or $1,000. That’s something that just lightens the load on our shoulders,” said Beauchamp.

The grant is also available to healthcare providers including hospitals, clinics and adult care facilities.

Capestany said those providers could receive up to $10,000 in reimbursement. She said it’s just one way the county is trying to help the community bounce back from the pandemic.

“What are their pain points? And that’s how we’ve been trying to adapt and be flexible and provide support and help them take it to the next level. And we know if we can help them a little, that will give them the encouragement to be able to launch in this new COVID world,” said Capestany.

Navigating the new world calls for some creativity. Alex Verchereau, owner of Big Dawg Barbershop in Tacoma, uses a pesticide sprayer to disinfect in between clients.

“I put germicide in it and we just spray the entire shop down between each client and make sure that things were even cleaner than it was before,” said Verchereau.

Verchereau said his shop followed thorough sanitizing measures before the coronavirus outbreak. He said now they bought extra cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer to keep up with the influx of customers. Verchereau said he too, plans to apply for the grant.

“The more volume of people we have, the more we’re going to go through it. And the more we go through it, the more I’m going to need to get. So, that money has got to come from somewhere,” said Verchereau.

Money is a struggle right now for business owners recovering from unprecedented times and Beauchamp said the Adaptation Grant is a good start.

“Reality is—this thing is a long way from over. And any help we can get is that much more help than we have to prevent us from maybe getting to the point where we never reopen our doors again,” said Beauchamp.

Pierce County has more information available about the grant, qualifications and applications on its website.