COVID-19 BUSINESS RESOURCES

Visit the Port’s COVID-19 page for business resources, including information on grants for Columbia County businesses.  Several grant funds have been combined to enable the broadest business support possible. This Business Resources document provides information for businesses trying to sort their way through the Coronavirus crisis.  New information includes guidance on forgivable expenses for your PPP loan as well as an Excel spreadsheet you can use to track PPP expenses.

Broadband Information Meeting August 31

The Port of Columbia will hold a Zoom meeting on Monday, August 31 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm to share information about their proposed broadband project in the City of Dayton and some adjacent outlying areas. Attendees will be able to ask questions, and will also be asked to fill out a short survey regarding their current service.

The Port contracted with PocketiNet, a Walla Walla-based company, to conduct a broadband feasibility study that was completed in February of this year.

“Port Commissioners hoped to be able to hold a public meeting to share information about the study in person, but the pandemic has made that impossible,” stated Jennie Dickinson, executive director of the Port of Columbia.

In addition to hearing a presentation on the Port’s proposed project, attendees will hear from Scott Hutsell, a Lincoln County Commissioner who also serves as the chair of the Public Works Board, a state funding agency that provides infrastructure funds to communities; Diana Ruchert, the manager of the Port of Garfield where a community broadband project is currently under construction; and Steve Mantle of Innov8 Ag Solutions who will speak to some of the ways the agricultural industry is using broadband to improve production.

The attendee survey will be available during the Zoom meeting via a link in the chat room, but can also be taken ahead of time by clicking here.

Click here to view meeting agenda. To join the Broadband Information Meeting via Zoom, go to www.bit.ly/PortZoom just prior to 6:00 pm on August 31 or you can join by phone by calling 315-813-7229 then entering the PIN: ‪229 898 120#.

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Masks Mandatory for Customers

Throughout not only Columbia County, but also the entire state of Washington, a new mandate has been issued by Governor Inslee requiring one to wear a mask in order to be serviced in a business. This comes into effect today, the 7th of July in 2020, and will continue for an unknown amount of time. So next time one plans to enter a business, they should be sure to not only be wearing a shirt and shoes, but also a mask – and please, socks are nice as well.

WWSBEG Offering Relief to Local Businesses

The WWSBEG (Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant) is currently being disbursed to businesses, bringing them in total $151,138 worth of aid. These funds should hopefully help keep the businesses afloat and running. But that is not to say that the businesses would no longer appreciate the residents of our town to shop local! If we come together as a community and a state to support our local businesses, their chances of success rise through even a trying time such as this. As such, this grant money dispersal is but one of the many steps we as a community are ready to take part in for those in our area.

Touchet Valley Trail

A trail connecting the rural communities of Dayton and Waitsburg has long been a dream. The Port of Columbia has been working diligently to make that dream a reality since it was first identified as a priority at Columbia County’s 2015 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy meeting. The 9.7 mile trail is included in the Blue Mountain Region Trails plan. A concept plan has been developed for the trail, and design and engineering started in January 2020, as mentioned more in depth below. Construction on the trail likely won’t begin until 2023 at the earliest, dependent on construction funds, maintenance plans, and engineering considerations.

Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant Recipients Announced

After 7 weeks of waiting, the Department of Commerce finally announced the recipients of the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program for Columbia County. Columbia County had 31 businesses apply, and 25 were awarded funds by the Governor’s office and the Department of Commerce. State lottery proceeds from the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund were used for the program. No Port of Columbia funds were used, and the Port declined using any of the funds for administration so that all monies would be available to businesses. We are working on the creation of a second, local grant fund in order to provide more assistance to those businesses still hurting from the COVID shutdown.

Casting caution: Rural business owners ask boaters and fishers to respect guidelines

While local business owners are ready to get open again, social distancing and other rules created during the COVID19 pandemic need to be following in order for those businesses to stay open.  Recreating in Columbia County is popular, and for decades we have welcomed people from across the state into our community. Times are different this spring, and our recreation business owners are asking visitors to respect the guidelines set forth so their ability to stay open is not jeopardized. More info here.