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Rising COVID-19 cases spell trouble as Everett aims to attract events with grant

Everett is trying to pump up its economy, but it may face a hurdle as Snohomish County faces the threat of moving back to Phase 2 with COVID-19 case counts rising.

EVERETT, Wash. — The city of Everett is offering a grant to help attract events in 2021 but it could hit a roadblock if COVID-19 restrictions prevent large-scale gatherings.

The idea behind it is events bring people to the city who then spend money on food, hotel rooms and shopping. That money helps boost Everett’s economy.

“Hopefully, we'll bring people in from out of the community, out of the county in some cases, and they'll see what we have going on in Everett," said Scott Murphy, Everett city councilmember and Lodging Tax Advisory Committee chair. "And hopefully, if something catches their eye...maybe they decide to come back again sometime. So the idea is hopefully this leverages future visits into our community as well."

The grant is paid for by a lodging tax. A portion of the tax is paid through people buying hotel rooms, which goes to the grant to help pay for events.

The grant in 2021 is far less than previous years. In 2021, the advisory committee is offering two rounds of funding totaling $200,000.

“In the past we've had as much as $600,000. So, we are cutting back, just because there's less," Murphy said. "There's less lodging taxes coming in, because there's less people staying in hotels. Our nonprofits really need the help. And we're really excited to be able to help get them kickstarted with some great projects."

The grant has helped fund nonprofits like the Schack Art Center and helped bring events like the USA Gymnastics state championships to the Angel of the Winds Arena.

The future of the types of events being held in Everett is contingent on what phase of reopening Snohomish County is in. Rising COVID-19 cases number and hospitalizations threaten to send the county back to Phase 2.

"It's going to be detrimental if we have to move back," Murphy said. "But obviously, these programs are funded with a contingency that they have to be done in a safe and responsible manner based on the current COVID guidelines in effect at the time of the event."

For more information and to apply for the grant visit the city of Everett’s website.

RELATED: QFC, community groups partner to get those most vulnerable vaccinated for COVID-19

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