EAST WENATCHEE — The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority will soon be cutting checks to 71 small businesses across the two-county region to help offset costs incurred by the COVID-19 shutdown.

The reimbursements, totaling $333,052 and ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, are part of the $10 million in Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants offered statewide by the governor and the state Department of Commerce. The port authority is distributing the money.

The local grant recipients announced Thursday include 17 restaurants, 14 retail stores, 10 salons, three fitness facilities, three beauty/personal services, three manufacturing facilities, three childcare businesses, two agricultural businesses and other small locally owned establishments.

“These businesses will primarily use these funds to pay rent, utilities and other allowable expenses,” Port Authority Executive Director Jim Kuntz said. The funds cannot be used for payroll costs, travel, software or office equipment.

“As soon as they sign their grant agreement and send us reimbursement requests for costs they have incurred, we cut them a check. We hope they will have checks in hand very soon,” Kuntz said.

The grant program was designed specifically for small businesses — those with fewer than 10 employees. The funds were allotted regionally based on population, with $178,500 for Chelan County and $154,552 for Douglas County.

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The regional port received 855 applications totaling almost $8 million. To help as many local businesses as possible locally, the port requested the per-business limit be capped at $5,000 — rather than the $10,000 initially proposed by the state — and that at least one business from each city in the county be selected, Kuntz said.

“We would like to thank the governor and Department of Commerce for working closely with the Regional Port in funding these small businesses in Chelan and Douglas counties,” said Regional Port Authority Board Chairman Rory Turner. “As our region works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, getting financial support for our small businesses is critical to economic recovery.”

The Regional Port is working with federal, state, and local governmental entities to secure additional resources to fund more small business grants.

Nevonne McDaniels: 664-7151

mcdaniels@wenatcheeworld.com