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caption: Students and instructor of the Orca Swim School
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Students and instructor of the Orca Swim School
Credit: Cori Myka

Seattle businesses, non-profits hope for some of that federal stimulus money

Few people know everything that's in the new federal stimulus bill yet, but local businesses and non-profits hope there's something in it for them.

All over the greater Seattle area, businesses, non-profits and cultural institutions are holding out hope that the stimulus will help them survive through the end of the pandemic.

The bill revives the the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), for example, which helps businesses keep their staff employed.

Cori Myka plans to apply for some of that PPP money. She runs the Orca Swim School in South Seattle, which helps people get over their fear of water. It does this by coaching them in small groups in a swimming pool heated to 94 degrees.

“For people to have this enriching heart centered experience in the midst of what has been a very stressful year in other places has really been why we keep the doors open, even though I’m going to debt doing it,” Myka said.

While Myka is going into debt during the pandemic, classes have had to be much smaller.

It's been a similar situation over at Rainier Valley Health and Fitness, a nonprofit gym run by Alicia Haskins. The gym itself is closed, but they’re doing classes online and in the parking lot.

Her staff are on reduced hours. She’ll apply for PPP funds in order to increase her staff’s hours.

“Because the demand is high, especially for older adults who aren’t able to comfortably come out of their homes, so that’s one of the highest demands is to be able to have a trainer come to them" via Zoom and Facebook Live, Haskins said. "And we can only take so much.”

LaNesha DeBardelaben is the museum administrator for the Northwest African American Museum. She said that although financial donations to the museum has doubled since last year, NAAM will definitely apply for federal funds, either through the PPP program or other sources earmarked for cultural institutions.

"We realize that we do need more resources to devote to continuous high quality digital production and management of our virtual programs," she said.

Beth Barrett, the artistic director of the Seattle International Film Festival, expressed hope following early reports that the new bill includes dedicated money for independent cinemas.

"I can't wait to read what it actually looks like," she said of the stimulus package. "But it's just like, 'Oh my God, the government might be giving us money.' That's awesome."

Barrett said with the CARES act, it took a while to learn whether organizations would be required to pay back their PPP loans.

Mass transit around the country is expected to receive $15 billion, far less than some advocates wanted, but not nothing. At the close of business on Monday, Sound Transit and King County Metro were still crunching the numbers to determine how much money could be coming their way.

The stimulus bill also includes $600 rebates for individuals and an extra $300 a week to people who are unemployed.