Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce staff and board members recently started a Small Business Relief Fund to help Sequim area businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce staff and board members recently started a Small Business Relief Fund to help Sequim area businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Chamber of Commerce starts Small Business Relief Fund

Donors, applicants sought

To provide a boost for local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s staff announced the creation of a Small Business Relief Fund that provides immediate grants to qualifying small businesses and small nonprofits in Sequim.

“The Small Business Relief Fund is an example of open-hearted community investment that will enhance what is currently available to our local businesses in need, and hopefully bring immediate support to our Sequim business community,” said Anji Scalf, the chamber’s executive director.

Funds could help businesses pay rent, employee salaries and operating costs as a stop-gap relief pending the release and distribution of anticipated federal and state aid with grants available as contributions allow.

Chamber staff said they seek initial seed funding and ongoing contributions.

How to donate

Chamber staff said they aren’t using a digital payment portal so that all donations go directly to businesses in need.

Checks can be mailed to: Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, ATTN: Sequim Small Business Relief Fund, P.O Box 907, Sequim WA 98382.

With question about making a donation, contact the Chamber’s financial administrator at office@sequimchamber.com or 360-683-6197

Donations are not tax-deductible at this time, but staff and board members are in-process of establishing a Sequim Chamber Foundation to assume administration of this fund in the future.

How to apply

The Sequim chamber will act as the fiscal agent for the Relief Fund and will manage all contributions through a dedicated account.

An executive committee made up of Sequim business and community leaders will review applications and make all decisions for dispersal of grant funding.

“We have the accounting all set up (for the fund, and) as soon as there are funds and applicants, we will review applications and disperse funds,” Scalf said.

The chamber has about 420 business members but the fund is available to non-members too along with its Courtesy Membership at no cost to access Chamber resources during the pandemic.

Find grant applications, criteria and more online at sequimchamber. com/business-center/ssbrf.

Further review

Chamber staff said the fund’s committee encourages collaborative projects to serve as many people as possible.

Requests of up to $2,500 are considered with larger grants and are considered on a case-by-case, staff said.

Scalf said the fund idea came after conversation with friends Jodi Minker and Shenna Younger and was shaped with conversation with board members and policies from other Chambers of Commerce with similar projects.

Scalf began working on a Chamber foundation late last year as part of the agency’s strategic plan, which blossomed into the Relief Fund, she said.

“COVID-19 and social distancing measures from the state and county have created many challenges for our local businesses,” she said.

“Although we should all still be supporting our local businesses in any way we can while following required social distancing, I invite all those in our community that are able to contribute to this fund to support Sequim businesses in this unprecedented shut down of commerce,” Scalf said. “These are challenging times, but by investing in our friends & neighbors, Sequim will endure.”

Contact the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, 1192 E. Washington St., at (360) 683-6197.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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