Website helps combat COVID-19

The new InlandBizStrong website was created to help northwest businesses find the resources they need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Avista Corp. and six regional partners have developed a website, InlandBizStrong, that assembles resources tailored to northern Idaho and eastern Washington businesses facing economic challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business owners answer demographic questions about their business, such as the location, the type of business and what type of assistance it needs.At the end of the questionnaire, which takes a couple of minutes, the website lists which local, state and federal financial assistance programs are available based on the information they select for their business.

Avista Regional Manager Paul Kimmell said the website launched about three weeks ago in Washington and went live Friday in Idaho.

He said he has received “super positive” feedback from businesses about the website.

“For us, we were really committed to a strong future for small businesses and how do we help them survive this,” he said.

Gina Taruscio, Partnership for Economic Prosperity executive director, said the website is easy to use and the questionnaire takes little time.

“That’s exactly the kind of website we want to see,” she said.

Kimmell said the website is updated with the most current resources available every day. Inland Northwest Partners updates the resources on the Idaho side and Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce updates the Washington side, Kimmell said.

“It’s a great collaborative effort,” he said.

Kimmell said businesses have tremendous needs because of the coronavirus crisis and Avista and its partners wanted to provide timely resources to empower the thousands of businesses in the region.

“When we designed the website, InlandBizStrong, we wanted to make sure that it was super intuitive and an easy survey to fill out, and so I think we’ve succeeded,” he said.

Kimmell said he knows many small businesses are struggling to pay utility bills and Avista customer service representatives are making payment arrangements with those businesses to reduce their worries.

Since businesses are struggling to pay bills, starting the website was a logical step forward, Kimmell said.

“They have plenty to worry about,” he said.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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