Through a coordinated regional response to the COVID-19 pandemic, economic development leaders formed Thurston Strong, leveraging and providing millions in funding to Thurston County businesses. Mad Bird Design’s role was to quickly brand, build, and launch the Thurston Strong resource website (thurstonstrong.org) in March 2020, shortly after Washington State’s Governor Inslee issued a ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order. The team’s quick action paid off – Thurston Strong generated millions of dollars in business and nonprofit aid, expedited unemployment benefits for impacted workers, and facilitated faster business recovery at each stage of reopening.
The WordPress website features a business emergency hotline, video of success stories, and is integrated with Rise online training system, transmitting real-time resource information to dislocated workers and employers searching for answers. With help from pass-through federal CARES Act funding, Thurston Strong distributed over $13 million in grants ranging from $1,500 to $30,000. Recipients included minority-owned businesses, restaurants, retailers, nonprofits, farms, co-ops, and value-add food manufacturers.
- Over the first year, the site hosted over 15,000 unique visitors.
- The program provided direct assistance to over 3,000 businesses, nonprofits and other partners
- Thurston Strong became a model emulated by other regions statewide.