The Dalles City Council earmarked an addition $100,000 in COVID-19 grant funds to fitness facilities and restaurants suffering due to statewide closures, with an additional $50,000 available for small businesses. The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce will again work with city staff to solicit applications and set criteria for the grants.

City Manager Julie Kruger said the criteria would be similar to previous grants, this time with an emphasis on athletic facilities and restaurants, many of which face closure in the near term, despite promised additional help from federal and state actions.

The Council reached consensus quickly during the regular Jan 11 regular meeting of the council.

Council Dan Richardson introduced the topic, noting the city still had COVID mitigation funds available, and the need, especially among fitness facilities and restaurants, was great. “They have been closed a couple of times by state order,” he noted, and

Kruger responded that “the need is urgent right now, particularly for the restaurants and fitness centers that have been closed.” She said if she could get a consensus from the council now, she had already alerted The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce Directory Lisa Farquharson that the city would again need the Chamber’s help in grant distribution and the funding could go out quickly. “She is an expert now at getting these funds out the door quickly,” Kruger said of Farquaharson.

These are Economic Recovery Funds, budgeted by the city, Kruger expended, and she recommended the city move forward in distributing those funds quickly. “The funds are already budgeted, and with the consensus of the Council we can start that process very quickly.” She recommended the city provide up to $100,000 in grants for those businesses.

Councilor Long-Curtiss said she supported moving forward with distributing those funds, but suggested expanding the opportunity to other small businesses that may not have been able to apply in previous rounds. Kruger agreed, and when asked if she anticipated $50,000 being sufficient said yes. “That $100,000 will go a long way in helping athletic facilities and restaurants, and I would be comfortable with an additional $50,000 for other small business,” she said.

Previous grants have averaged about $2,000 per business. She said although the grants are small, they are critical as businesses await more substantial help from federal and state agencies, Kruger said.

After a short discussion, the council gave unanimous consent to the plan.