The Skagit County commissioners approved a plan Friday to use $1 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to support struggling small businesses.

Thirty companies were awarded grants between $2,000 and $9,000 to keep business afloat and people employed during the pandemic.

Deputy County Administrator Kayla Schott-Bresler said these businesses qualified for earlier rounds of stimulus, but did not receive funding.

On Monday, small businesses and some nonprofits will be able to apply for a portion of $750,000 in a second round of funding, she said.

Commissioner Lisa Janicki said a resilient economy depends on the health of small business, many of which may just need a timely injection of cash to stay in business.

“We need you to be healthy and whole,” she said.

Phyllis Woolwine, owner of Shearwater University in Anacortes, and a recipient of a $5,000 grant, said the pandemic has forced her to cancel many classes, and run the remaining ones at limited capacity. The company offers sailing and powerboating classes.

“I’ve poured the entire last five years of my life into this,” she said. “I don’t want it to sink.”

Commissioner Ron Wesen said each of the three county commissioners has worked in family-owned businesses and understand the stress of trying to navigate unpredictable times.

“I definitely remember sitting around the kitchen table, wondering how we would make things work,” Wesen said.

Awards are based on the size of the company, Schott-Bresler said.

The Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County will manage the program.

— Reporter Brandon Stone:, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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