Several Yachats assistance programs have launched to help business owners, workers, and residents weather the storm of COVID-19
YACHATS – Tidepools and tumbling surf along the rugged Pacific shoreline. Renowned eateries. A network of trails. Towering Cape Perpetua, offering sweeping views, just to the south.
And that’s just the beginning.
The community of Yachats boasts an expansive “to-do” list to keep visitors busy – and to keep precious tourism dollars flowing into the local economy.
With the loss of tourism income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community is coming together to help keep businesses afloat, to help ensure Yachats can come back when the tourists do.
Several local assistance programs were launched to help get money to both business owners and to workers, including a small business low-interest loan fund, a displaced worker assistance fund and providing some public funds to match money spent at local small businesses.
In addition, a partnership between the city and a local church ensured the community food pantry could stay open and serve the public after the pandemic forced the closure of the civic facility, which includes City Hall.
“This is such an incredibly generous community,” said City Manager Shannon Beaucaire.
The city and its businesses depend on each other, she said, and that was the springboard for conversations about deploying some public funds for assistance, which led to the $100,000 for the small business loan fund through Community Lending Works.
The community assistance efforts in Yachats – where the population is about 700 and can swell to 4,000 in the peak summer season – aren’t the only ones in Oregon. Concerned citizens from across Oregon – including Marion County, Hillsboro, Portland, and Bend – are stepping up to help businesses weather pandemic-caused economic hardship. But Yachats may stand out for the level of generosity from such a small community, Beaucaire said.
This community support in Yachats is an example of how Oregonians come together to help each other in times of need.
In addition to temporarily adopting the food pantry, the Yachats Community Presbyterian Church also established the displaced workers fund to help provide $300 a week to those who haven’t yet received unemployment assistance, and to help small business owners. The amount of money that’s been donated and given has topped $150,000 and growing.
City manager Beaucaire said officials are looking ahead to reopening and understand businesses will need help to restock, when that happens. She has formed a local workgroup including a hotel owner, restaurant owner, medical professional and city workers to start mapping out how the city and businesses can safely get back into gear after the shutdown ends.
Jennifer Fredricksen, who is a member of the panel and owns Yachats Brewing + Farmstore, said the community efforts have been a welcome lifeline. Her business employs as many as 22 people, but currently has just two on the payroll for take-out orders.
“Our community has always been generous and welcoming. Yachats is inclusive to everyone,” she said. “We believe in each of our local businesses and are striving to ensure we all come back and thrive, moving ahead.”