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Businesses impacted by COVID-19 receive $210K in grants funded by county and state

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - St. Helens and Scappoose received the most grants in the recent COVID-19 small business relief grant program.Fifty-two Columbia County businesses impacted by COVID-19 were awarded grants last week.

The total $210,452 in grants were distributed by the Columbia-Pacific Economic Development District and Columbia County Economic Team.

The county contributed $100,000 and the state contributed $150,000. In May, the county applied for $100,000 in state funding for COVID-19 relief grants, but only received $70,000. Col-Pac also applied for funding and received $80,000.

That added up to $250,000 available for local grants, meaning almost $40,000 remains.

CCET interim Executive Director Paul Vogel said the agencies were working to determine the best way to distribute the remaining funds. The $40,000 will likely be added to an upcoming additional round of grant funding.

The grants range from $2,500 to $15,000. Businesses could apply for up to $25,000, but the largest grant was far below that amount. The average grant amount was $4,047.

Nearly 90% of the grant applications were funded, according to a press release from CCET.

Of the 52 businesses to receive grants, 34 were women-owned and six were nonprofits.

St. Helens was home to 16 of the recipients; Scappoose, 18; Clatskanie, five; Vernonia and Warren, four each; Rainier, three; and Columbia City, two.

Vogel said the specific recipients are confidential.

Applications were due in early July, just 10 days after the grant application was announced in an email newsletter from CCET. Checks were initially expected to be distributed by the end of July, but a press release from CCET explained that the process was delayed because additional information and verification were needed from applicants.

"The intent is to get this grant money into peoples' hands who need it to stay open and recover, so the extra diligence and assistance was important and worth it, in our view," Vogel said.

CCET and Col-Pac then submitted award recommendations to Business Oregon, which, as the state's economic development agency, was in charge of distributing funds.

"This was an extensive process for a new program that didn't even exist three months ago," said Mary McArthur, executive director of Col-Pac. "It's so important to get the money out to businesses that need it. We're pleased to be able to help and we thank all those who assisted, especially the Board of Commissioners and Business Oregon for investing to create the opportunity." 

The grants were open to small businesses that had not received federal CARES funding, like Paycheck Protection Program loans. Col-Pac expects to receive additional grant funding from Business Oregon, which would be open to recipients of CARES funding.

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