Clallam County commissioners are expected to approve a $70,000 spending request for a “Choose Clallam First” campaign to support local businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
Commissioners Mark Ozias and Randy Johnson said on March 30 they would support the request from the Clallam County Economic Development Council (EDC).
Commissioner Bill Peach was absent.
EDC Executive Director Colleen McAleer said the nonprofit was seeking a total of $150,000 from the county, $70,000 of which would be used for the four-month Choose Clallam First campaign.
The remaining $80,000 would be part of the EDC’s annual contract with the county.
“I wholeheartedly support this request,” commissioner Randy Johnson said in a March 30 work session.
“So do I,” commissioner Mark Ozias said. “Let’s go ahead and start working on the contract.”
If approved by commissioners in a future meeting, the EDC would use the $70,000 for social media messaging, geo-fencing and newspaper and radio advertisements.
“We’re doing a lot of in-kind work, and the folks that are contracting with us are charging a whole lot less than what would be considered market rate,” McAleer said.
A $9,000 share of the $70,000 would be distributed to the United Way of Clallam County to “get information out to all the different nonprofits,” McAleer said.
Port Angeles Lefties Co-owner Matt Acker said he and others had begun promoting Choose Clallam First on social media.
“What we started out with was a mission to let everybody know that we’re a resource for local businesses, to get them all to one place to answer questions about loans, about things that are changing but also be a resource to residents to let them know who’s up and running, who’s pivoted, deliveries and those kinds of things,” Acker told commissioners.
Acker said social media was the “quickest way to get out there.”
“The impact was immediate for us,” Acker said.
For information on Choose Clallam First, go to www.chooseclallamfirst.com.
“Right now, we’re more than anything reaching out to the places that we can,” Acker said.
“And the next steps for us in the meantime is to start reaching out to places that may not have a social media presence.”
McAleer said she had been sharing information with small businesses on the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act, sick leave modifications, small business loans, a new paycheck protection program and changes with state unemployment.
“We’re trying to figure out these crazy new rules and help businesses,” McAleer said.
The EDC has hosted a series of webinars for businesses saddled by the impacts of the coronavirus.
“I’m really pleased with how quickly you and the rest of the EDC team have sort of jumped into the gap here,” Ozias told McAleer.
Johnson said the next four months would be “absolutely imperative for businesses.”
He added that Choose Clallam First would be “money well spent.”
“I’ve heard comments from a lot of businesses because they just don’t know where to go, what to do, what’s available, what’s not, and of course that keeps changing,” Johnson told McAleer.
“So I see a continuing need for your services certainly for the next month, month and a half, as we ram through this whole issue.
“And then, as we hopefully come to the other side of where we come out of this, the businesses are going to need additional help,” Johnson added.
“So again, thank you for stepping up.”
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, is vice chair of the Economic Development Corp. board of directors.