More than $300,000 of CARES Act money awarded to Pullman will be spent on providing grants to the city’s small businesses.

The Pullman City Council gave its approval Tuesday to provide approximately $369,000 of the more than $518,000 in CARES Act money to the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association. SEWEDA is awarding Whitman County business grants of as much as $10,000.

The money provided by Pullman will be awarded to local businesses and could increase already awarded grants or increase the total pool of grant recipients.

“I don’t think that we can do enough to ensure our businesses stay as healthy as they can during this,” said Councilor Pat Wright.

Councilor Al Sorensen said 65 Pullman businesses have applied for a SEWEDA grant.

In response to complaints from their constituents, the City Council decided not to spend any CARES Act dollars on marketing tourism in Pullman.

A portion of the CARES Act money will be directed to Pullman Regional Hospital’s COVID-19 testing efforts and councilors expressed a desire to use those resources to make testing affordable for those without insurance.

Some of the remaining CARES Act money will also be spent on city staff payroll.

The council on Tuesday also decided not to spend CARES Act money on roof repairs for the emergency shelter at the new City Hall building. Other CARES Act money will go toward personal protective equipment.

The City Council accepted a FEMA grant that would allow the fire department to hire three additional personnel and decrease its overtime budget. It allows the department to staff one of its engines with three people so that it can provide immediate rescue in an emergency situation without waiting for additional resources to arrive.

The council discussed the temporary traffic and parking changes on Main Street that ended this month. Those changes include reducing Main Street to two lanes, adding back-in angled parking and a bike lane.

A review of this “pop-up demonstration” showed the back-in angled parking received mostly negative feedback from the public. Staff said pull-in angled parking should be considered instead.

While the two lanes did not cause any significant traffic delays, the amount of traffic on the road was not typical because of the pandemic.

The bike lane received positive feedback, but it seemed better suited to be on the north side of Main Street instead of the south side.

Pullman Public Works Director Kevin Gardes suggested the city get started on a conceptual design of permanent changes to Main Street and have further discussion on those.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at

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