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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

City Of Seattle Announces $2 Million For Small Businesses And Organizations Most Impacted by Vaccine Verification Requirements

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council recently announced that the City will be adding $2 million to the Office of Economic Development (OED) Small Business Stabilization Fund (SBSF) to support small businesses and organizations impacted by the new vaccination verification requirement in King County. Up to 2,000 eligible small businesses and organizations that are required to enforce this policy will receive additional funding of up to $1,000 to help offset the economic impacts of this requirement. 

Eligible sectors for this additional funding include restaurants, performing arts and cultural institutions, nightlife spaces, and extracurricular/recreational indoor activity spaces (such as bowling alleys, gyms, gaming facilities, etc.). Eligible applicants will not be required to submit a separate application to access this additional funding. The more than 500 businesses in these sectors that have already applied for this round of SBSF will be eligible automatically, and do not need to reapply. 

“Every step of the way, we have listened to the science – it’s why Seattle has the lowest cases, hospitalizations and deaths of every major city and one of the highest vaccination rates. The vaccine verification is the right thing to do to continue to keep our communities safe. Seattle is stepping up again, and as we implement this vaccine verification, it is important that we support our small businesses and arts community as necessary,” said Durkan.  

All small businesses and non-profits such as performing arts, cultural institutions or business technical assistance nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply to the Small Business Stabilization Fund by November 14, 2021. All applicants in the eligible sections mentioned above that are required to enforce the vaccination verification policy may be eligible to receive this additional funding of up to $1,000 even if they are not selected for a Stabilization Fund during the random selection process. Organizations and businesses that have not yet applied for a Stabilization Fund grant should submit their application as soon as possible to access this additional funding. The grants up to $1,000 for vaccine verification are expected to begin to be distributed in December 2021 following the passage of the 2021 supplemental budget.

“Long before King County put vaccine verification in place, more than 140 establishments were requiring proof of vaccination already.  Standing with workers and small businesses struggling to stay open means helping to implement and enforce vaccine verification.  An analysis by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that the vaccine verification policy at restaurants, bars, and gyms/fitness centers alone could prevent 17,900 to 75,900 infections, 421 to 1,760 hospitalizations, and 63 to 257 deaths locally over six months.  This step will save lives, remove pressure from our healthcare workers and keep small businesses open,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold.

To be eligible for a Small Business Stabilization Fund grant, businesses and nonprofits must be currently open and operating, have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, be located within Seattle city limits, have no more than two locations, have an annual net revenue at or below $2 million, and have an annual net loss totaling or exceeding the SBSF grant amount applied for according to City Business and Occupation (B&O) data.  To apply for the Small Business Stabilization Fund or learn more about eligibility requirements and the application process, visit seattle.gov/SmallBusinessStabilizationFund. 

“We are asking our small businesses to pivot their operations yet again to help us respond to the realities of COVID in our city. We know that these changes can create additional costs for businesses doing their best to stabilize. I am grateful for the resiliency of our small business owners and believe this additional funding can relieve some of the financial pressure they are under as we transition into a new phase of our city’s recovery,” said Pamela Banks, Interim Director of the Office of Economic Development.   

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