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City of Seattle Announces $5 Million in New Grants to Support Small Businesses and Workers Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Small Business Grants to Focus on Restaurants and Bars; Worker Grants to Focus on Hospitality Industry

City Offering Technical Support for New State Small Business Grants

Seattle (December 4, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, City Council President M. Lorena González, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, and Councilmember Tammy Morales today announced a new $5 million relief package to support small businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to recent statewide restrictions needed to slow the surge of COVID-19, the $5 million will be directed toward small businesses and workers in the hospitality industry. $2.5 million will be granted to restaurants and bars, and $2.5 million will be granted to hospitality workers. This budget action will be introduced and considered by the City Council on Monday, December 7.

“In response to skyrocketing cases in our region and state, Governor Inslee rightly implemented statewide restrictions to curb indoor gathering and slow the spread of COVID-19. But there’s no denying these restrictions have impacted our small businesses and workers, who have been reeling from the pandemic for almost a year now,” said Mayor Durkan. “These emergency grants are intended to provide a lifeline to small businesses and workers most recently impacted. While these grants are a necessary aid, ultimately, real relief must come from the federal government. Congress must act next week to finally pass an overdue COVID-19 relief package. Every day they fail to act, more small businesses close their doors for good, and more workers lose their jobs.”

“Members of the restaurant industry and their families are carrying the heavy financial burdens of this pandemic. Many continue to face uncertainty about the long-term impacts to this industry. I am proud that here, in the City of Seattle, we are stepping up and working collaboratively to fund relief for this industry, at a time when expanded unemployment benefits are set to run out and relief from Congress is not immediately on the horizon,” said Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide).

“We know local governments that invest in standing up supports during economic downturns recover faster. While Seattle has invested millions of dollars in small business supports, we must do more to close funding gaps and invest further in our small businesses, especially as our city undergoes another round of COVID-related closures. What’s best for our local economy, our working families, and our recovery is to ensure as many small businesses as possible are able to survive this pandemic and make it out to the other side,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).

“Part of building community wealth is creating opportunities for small businesses to thrive in the places their owners and workers live. As another wave of COVID infections hits Seattle, we know some small businesses that barely survived the first shut down won’t be able to this time. The demand for small business financial support is only increasing, and I’m proud Seattle is meeting the challenge by investing another $5 million in aid. By prioritizing businesses in areas of high displacement, we’re providing community members and business owners support to further avoid disaster gentrification,” said Councilmember Tammy Morales (District 2, South Seattle and the C/ID)

The $2.5 million in new grants for small businesses will target restaurants and bars that have been financially impacted by COVID-19. The City will not open applications for small business grants; instead, it will identify eligible grantees from the current pool of Small Business Stabilization Fund (SBSF) applicants. The most recent round of SBSF grants closed on November 30, and an initial analysis by the City’s Office of Economic Development shows that approximately 1,100 restaurant or bar owners applied for grants. All eligible applicants will receive grants to support continuing operations including outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Restaurants and bars who receive grants through this newest round will remain eligible for up to $10,000 SBSF grant as well.

Restaurants and bars are central to Seattle’s soul. The COVID-19 pandemic is crippling our small business community, and local restaurants and bars are doing their part to stem the spread of the virus as we all endure this unprecedented challenge,” said Jessica Tousignant, Executive Director of Seattle Restaurants United. “I am glad to see the City stepping up and providing immediate relief to restaurants and bars and their workers, and I urge Congress to also meet the urgency of this moment and provide immediate financial relief for small businesses and workers.”

An additional $2.5 million in grants will go to cash assistance to hospitality industry workers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To be eligible for a grant, workers would need to demonstrate that they have been financially impacted by the pandemic, whether that’s through a layoff or reduction in hours. Cash assistance will be determined commensurate to need, up to $1,000, with higher amounts going to those who are housing insecure. The City’s Human Services Department will contract with a third-party agency to conduct the application process and distribute the grants. More information on the agency will be available in the coming days.

To date, the City has invested $8.6 million in small businesses through its emergency Small Business Stabilization Fund. Applications for the most recent round of funding closed on November 30. The City also has a number of relief programs for working people, including emergency grocery vouchers, rental assistance, and support for immigrants and refugees. The City’s Disaster Relief Fund for immigrants recently distributed $7.94 million to 3,730 applicants.

Residents and businesses can find a list of existing COVID-19 relief resources and policies on this website.

This week, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced Round 3 of the Working Washington Small Business grants. Grants are prioritized for small businesses with annual revenues of $5 million or less in 2019, businesses in sectors most impacted by recent public health measures, and sectors that have experienced significant, cumulative impacts. Priority will be given to applications received by December 11.

The Seattle Office of Economic Development is offering technical support to small businesses who are applying. For assistance, email oed or call 206-684-8090. In-language assistance available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Amharic, and Somali. For more information, click here.

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