PORT ORCHARD — Twelve rent-relief grants to assist local small businesses have been approved and funded by the City of Port Orchard, according to city officials Tuesday.
The city made $100,000 available for the Port Orchard Cares grant program through the federal CARES Act to assist qualifying business owners with rent-related expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
“Running a small business is a challenging pursuit in any economic environment,” Mayor Rob Putaansuu said Tuesday.
“The pandemic has made it exponentially more difficult, yet the vast majority of our local business owners have adapted and push through, making things work to the best of their abilities. The Port Orchard CARES rent relief program is a small, yet welcome, benefit.”
The funding program is designed to reimburse business-related commercial rent or lease expenses for up to six months between April and September. Selected Port Orchard businesses will receive up to $5,000 based on the impact that COVID-19 has had on each entity, the city said in a news release.
“We are beyond grateful to the City of Port Orchard, Mayor Putaansuu and the City Council for leading our community through this pandemic and making the Small Business Rent Relief Grant available to local businesses like ours,” said Steven Pace, the owner of CrossFit NXNW.
“CrossFit NXNW has been a small business in Port Orchard since 2013,” Pace said. “This year has by far been the most challenging, but thanks to our tight-knit community and our local leadership, we have been able to mitigate some of the economic impact of COVID-19. This grant will help us to continue practicing what we love — fitness, health and community.”
Nathan Landry, co-owner of the Bethel Avenue restaurant The Grey House Cafe, said becoming an owner during a global pandemic “has been stressful, to say the least.”
Landry said, “This grant gives us peace of mind that everything will be okay and we will be able to one day throw the doors open and welcome the community back to our restaurant.
“The entire Grey House team would like to thank the local community and the City of Port Orchard for their unwavering support during this unprecedented time.”
Another small business owner hard-hit by the pandemic, Bobbie Stewart of Olde Central Antique Mall, said it hurts to see downtown shops struggle during the pandemic.
“This funding meets a critical need to pay our back rent so we can feel financially secure.”
City officials said they are working with the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance to get funding for a second round of grant applications.
Putaansuu said small business owners interested in learning more about the Port Orchard Cares grant program and other assistance programs that are available should visit the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance website at kitsapeda.org.