The town of Bayfield wants to help businesses access COVID-19 relief money so much that the town created a new position to help them do it.
Beth Lamberson, former executive director of KSUT, is the town’s first economic recovery coordinator. Lamberson will have boots on the ground to network with businesses and connect them with relief funds, like $75,000 of business grants and resources given to Bayfield through the U.S. government’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.
“The most important piece of this for me is to have the businesses tell us what they need, not the other way around,” Lamberson said.
Bayfield received $103,000 in total from the coronavirus relief bill, the CARES Act. The town plans to use about $60,000 of that amount for small business grants and $10,000 to $15,000 for business resources and programs. The rest is used for eligible town operation expenses and personal protective equipment, said Katie Sickles, town manager.
The goal is to help businesses continue to provide services during the pandemic. Lamberson is stopping by businesses to let them know about the funds and to do a needs assessment.
She imagined that businesses could use modest grants to purchase outdoor heaters to hold outside services or purchase PPE. More information about the town’s grants will be provided as the program develops.
The temporary position, which pays $30 to $35 an hour and ends after six months, is funded through the additional sales tax that Bayfield has collected this year, Sickles said.
The town’s sales tax has increased almost 40% compared with 2019, likely from online sales tax collections, which started in 2020, she said.
“But a community really relies on businesses to be economically healthy as well,” Sickles said. “We’re hoping (the position) helps propel this local economy forward.”