BCEDC launches second round of economic assistance

| October 22, 2020 1:00 AM

On Thursday, Oct. 22, the Bonner County Economic Development Council's application for the second of Economic Response & Recovery Funds will open at www.bonnercountyedc.com/errfund. Bonner County-based businesses are encouraged to review the criteria online and submit an application for consideration by the ERR Fund Committee. Grants awarded will vary in size and will be no larger than $5,000.

Applications are first-come, first-serve, and will be reviewed and approved by the BCEDC Economic Response and Recovery Fund’s Committee. The BCEDC ERR Fund Committee is composed of Eric Paull, Chair, BCEDC; Ryan Robinson, Chair, ERR Fund Committee; Andrea Marcoccio, Director, BCEDC; Kate McAlister, Director of the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce; and Amy Encinas-Yount President of the Priest River Chamber of Commerce.

The BCEDC is issuing three types of grants. Businesses will need to select one type and provide details about their needs. The following types of grants are available:

A grant to secure funding to receive professional support in the areas of professional bookkeeping or CPA support, legal or HR counsel, marketing or e-commerce, general business advisory, and COVID-19 compliance.

A grant to cover already incurred expenses related to COVID-19 after June 20, 2020.

A grant to supply PPE to my employees and/or customers/clients at the recommendation of the local health district to remain open and operate safely.

After a successful first round, the BCEDC was given a new and charitable matching grant incentive through the Margaret F. Galbraith Fund hosted by the Innovia Foundation. These new funds allowed for potential contributions to be matched, essentially doubling a donation’s value. Immediately, the BCEDC reached out to local businesses and partners to help meet this new opportunity with local support. Members of the BCEDC ERR Fund raised generous matching donations from local businesses including Kochava, Percussionaire, Ting, North Idaho Title, and Washington Trust Bank.

Simultaneously, local leaders at the City of Sandpoint and Bonner County extended the on-going partnership with the BCEDC to make available remaining Idaho Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF). Governor Little provided flexibility for local governments to utilize their allocation of the CRF to create a small business support grant to aid businesses affected by COVID-19 in their communities. This will further the number of funds available to those eligible in the community.

“The BCEDC is honored to continue to play a critical role in creating opportunities, leveraging relationships, and delivering direct support for local businesses across Bonner County. Working alongside our partners -- these dollars will support our economic recovery to ensure the vibrancy of our communities through the winter,” said, Andrea Marcoccio, Executive Director of Bonner County Economic Development Corporation.

The second round of funding comes after a successful launch of the ERR Fund earlier in 2020. From March to June, the BCEDC raised $25,000 from partners including Bonner County, The City of Sandpoint, and the Innovia Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The BCEDC launched the first round of micro-grants for struggling local businesses most affected by COVID-19. Through partnerships with local professional service providers, these dollars have supported struggling businesses from a wide variety of industries and business sizes all located and actively doing business in Bonner County.

“In the first round, the BECDC issued 19 ERR Fund Grants from Oldtown and Sandpoint to Priest River and the Selle Valley. These grants funded critical expenses that would have otherwise been unmanageable during the economic shutdown and its aftermath. From CPA and legal counsel to developing e-commerce and new business strategies -- this fund helped local businesses pivot and survive the initial wave,” said Andrea Marcoccio Director of BCEDC.

And the grantees agree.

“After a five-week mandated closure, our thirty-plus-year-old Mainstreet storefront saw an unprecedented reduction in sales. We faced daily anxiety about sustainability and recovery. The BCEDC went door-to-door and launched the ERR Fund. We applied online and within days were granted funds to shift our business model to be more e-commerce friendly -- a long term recovery measure that will help our business through the lingering pandemic and beyond.” said Jennifer Curto, Owner of Outdoor Experience.

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, Roley and Janice Schoonover, owners said, “As a multi-faceted business in rural Bonner County, we were facing new health and customer protocols in the wake of COVID-19. From writing a new standard operating procedure guide for both internal and external use to learning the new health department guidelines -- this effort was time-consuming and costly. We received a grant to contract with a local professional service provider, Big Leap Creative, to help develop and implement these plans on a short timeline that allowed our business to reopen and remain safe.”

“The Sandpoint Farmers Market and our vendors faced uncertain times this spring as we prepared for a 2020 market mid-pandemic. We faced balancing community wellness measures, a temporary location change, and limited vendor spaces to meet social distancing requirements. We were unsure how we would manage our marketing budget in such difficult times. When we learned of the ERR Fund, we applied and were granted dollars to sustain the marketing campaign we had originally hoped for. Without these funds, this would have not been possible,” said Kelli Burt, Executive Director of the Sandpoint Farmers Market.

For business owners seeking help this fall and winter, it’s simple to apply for the Economic Response and Recovery Fund. Visit www.bonnercountyedc.com/errfund and apply online. If you are a member of the community and are interested in contributing to this fund, please contact Andrea Marcoccio at Andream@bonnercountyedc.com.