By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

County approves emergency relief grant program for small businesses

Small Yamhill County businesses in crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown may be able to get some help from the county.

A new countywide program will offer emergency grants of $2,500 to businesses that have exhausted other means of seeking relief. Commissioner Mary Starrett asked SEDCOR, the county’s economic development contractor, to pay special attention to microbusinesses that might not receive help from sources such as chambers of commerce.

Abisha Stone, the county’s economic development manager, told county commissioners she plans to include a Spanish translation in the social media material she sends to cities, hoping they will post it in public forums such as their library or community center pages.

“Our hope is that businesses who are not connected to the traditional economic development partners will receive this information through this more localized approach,” Stone wrote in her proposal.

In addition to working with area newspapers, “we are also pursuing use of a local Hispanic radio station to help broadcast the program announcement,” she said.

Applications will be accepted for only 72 hours, starting next Monday, April 20, with fund distribution beginning May 14.

Stone has divided the $250,000 in available funds among each of the cities in the county, by population, and plans to enter the applications for each area into a lottery.

“If any community’s allocation is not fully awarded, due to lack of participation, those funds will go back into the larger pot and a county-wide lottery drawing will be held to issue those funds,” Stone said.

Eligible businesses must be under mandatory closure orders, have 15 or fewer employees, and have experienced economic losses because of the pandemic.

Businesses will need to show they have not received county economic development grants during the past year, and have already sought options such as rent or mortgage relief, extended vendor payment terms, utility payment extensions and loan extensions.

Applications will be available online, and on the county’s website, once they have been developed.

Stone said she plans to create a committee with county grants program manager Carrie Martion, and a chamber representative to review the applications. Starrett asked Stone to add a business owner to the committee, noting it should be someone ineligible for the program.

“I just really want to see somebody who’s in the trenches making those decisions as well,” Starrett said.

Commissioner Rick Olson also asked Stone to include representatives from both the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce.

County commissioners approved the program on Thursday.


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