The Skagit County Board of Commissioners gave approval Monday for $809,000 in grants to help local businesses and nonprofits survive as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

It’s the second round of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding the county has dispersed to small businesses.

The county earmarked $1 million in CARES Act funding for small business relief. The first round included about $160,000 in funding.

The Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County vetted applicants and made recommendations for both rounds of funding.

The first round aided 30 businesses, all with 10 employees or fewer. The second will help 75 businesses and nonprofits, all with 25 or fewer full-time employees. Grants range from $5,000 to $25,000.

Several recipients spoke during the commissioners’ meeting Monday about the need for their businesses to stay alive in an uncertain time.

“This year has been the toughest,” said Bodi Ortiz, who co-founded Caliber Precision, which makes parts for clients across several industries including defense and aerospace. “We’ve been though ‘08, Boeing ups and downs, but this year has been something else.”

Paul Pickering, co-owner of Max Dale’s in Mount Vernon, thanked the commissioners for providing some “light in the darkness” in a time when the restaurant’s revenues are down 81 percent since March.

“We thought 2008 would be the worst economic issue we’ve ever run into ... it’s just a matter of white-knuckling for the restaurant business and surviving,” he said.

Terry Gifford, owner of Willowbrook Manor in Sedro-Woolley, said she is looking forward to making health safety improvements to her business.

“I’m so concerned with not spreading the virus. We’re just not operating ... (we’re) hunkering down, waiting for things to get better,” she said. “I’m hoping if the grant is offered I could make Willowbrook as safe as possible.”

Commissioner Lisa Janicki said she was grateful to hear from business owners who will benefit from the grants.

“There’s nothing like hearing the real stories. Otherwise it’s just another resolution passed by commissioners,” she said.

Commissioner Ron Wesen said, “It’s important the community knows how important these small businesses are.”

Ken Dahlstedt said he was pleased the commissioners could help small businesses.

“Hopefully this will keep businesses going until we can get through it,” he said.

Reporter Trevor Pyle: 360-416-2156, tpyle@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Sports_SVH, Facebook.com/bytrevorpyle

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