Puyallup - Homegrown Tools

Puyallup, WA

Updated: 2022

Through the Winter Ready Funds Program, the City of Puyallup awards one-time $5,000 grants (a total of $150,000) to eligible local restaurant and retail businesses for purchasing equipment and making other necessary adjustments to be able to serve customers outdoors during the pandemic restrictions.

Median Household Income2020$76,565
Poverty Rate 20206.1%
Proximity to Urban Center 10 miles to Tacoma, WA
Proximity to Interstate Highway 5 miles to I-5
Case Study Time Frame 2020
Municipal Budget FY2019113.4 million
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
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The City of Puyallup is a commuter city in the Puget Sound region of Washington. Puyallup’s economy relies heavily on the retail, restaurant, and visitor services industry of its commercial district, anchored by South Hill Mall, and its historic downtown. The unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the indoor capacity restrictions negatively impacted local businesses. To allow for retail and restaurant businesses to operate according to public health guidelines, the City created a grant to support businesses’ efforts to prepare for the colder winter temperatures and continue to provide services outdoors.



In developing the program the City was particularly concerned about small, locally owned, and local franchise businesses in the downtown area to ensure that they remained viable. Only locally owned businesses, local franchises, and for-profit businesses qualified. The program was administered through the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Local Government Coronavirus Relief Fund.


What are the lessons learned from this story?


Relationship building between local governments and local business owners is key. The City was always ready to pivot in-real time according to the needs of the local business owners as directly expressed. Without this type of communication, it would have been difficult to understand the unique needs of each business and develop a program with as much flexibility as the Winter Ready Funds Program. Similarly, local business owners felt comfortable phoning the economic development manager to relate that the application process was too difficult and ask if a certain equipment purchase or construction would fall under the grant requirements. This type of relationship ensures maximum economic benefit from this type of grant program.


Local economies benefit from collaboration among local government departments. The close working relationships between different City government departments allowed for quick, coordinated pivots. As the zoning regulations relaxed, the traffic engineers developed solutions to potential zoning problems, and the fire marshal communicated with the economic development manager and business owners about potential fire hazards and solutions. This seamless collaboration allowed for an effective and comprehensive set of solutions for economic recovery