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Sunday, November 28, 2021

City Of Seattle To Open Applications For $4 Million In Small Business Stabilization Fund Grants

SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman and Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan

With SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that the City will now accept applications for the Small Business Stabilization Fund (SBSF) provided by the Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED). OED will award an additional $4 million in grants to help stabilize micro and small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 as the City transitions from emergency response to economic recovery. This new round of the SBSF will provide $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000 grants to be used on operational expenses such as rent, wages and equipment.

“Over the last 20 months, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis has had an undeniable impact on our small business community in every neighborhood across Seattle. From the initial days of the pandemic, the City of Seattle, and the Office of Economic Development has worked hard to support our City’s vibrant small businesses and provide financial assistance to those who need it the most,” Said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Because of the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on our black, indigenous and people of color communities, we have focused our programs to support businesses owned and operated by women and owners of color. As we look ahead to recovery and building back better, programs like our Small Business Stabilization Fund will be integral to Seattle’s equitable reopening and recovery.” 

To date, OED has awarded over $10 million in direct funding to nearly 1,500 small businesses who have been impacted by the economic downturn of COVID-19 throughout Seattle.  

The newest round of the Small Business Stabilization Fund is financed by the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLFR) established under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). OED will administer these grants as part of their citywide economic recovery investments. In past rounds of the SBSF, all selected businesses and nonprofits received a grant amount of $10,000. In this new round, eligible businesses and nonprofits can apply for grants in the amounts of $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000 based upon demonstrated negative financial impact resulting from COVID-19. Additionally, because OED has not opened the application pool for SBSF in nearly one year and due to the ongoing economic impacts from the pandemic, OED will accept applications from small businesses and nonprofits that applied and/or received SBSF grants in past rounds.  

“Over the past year our office has received feedback from stakeholders asking us to consider offering grants of different amounts to better meet the individual needs of our small businesses and nonprofits,” said OED Interim Director Pamela Banks. “Over the past 19 months, providing critical resources and support to our small business community has required creativity, flexibility, and a willingness to pivot our approach based on community feedback. All businesses have been experiencing impacts from COVID, but these experiences are not all identical. Therefore, we are excited to offer grants of different amounts this round, with the hopes that they better meet the varying needs of our small businesses and nonprofits doing their best to survive.”  

“A number of things are ailing businesses these days, most of which are out of the businesses control. This is why this type of support — SBA grants, and grants like the Small Business Stabilization Fund — are critical,” said Gregory Davis, Managing Strategist for the Rainier Beach Action Coalition. “But we can’t stop there. Partnerships across municipalities like the city, county, state, federal government and business sectors are important. My hope is that these partnerships are a catalyst for ongoing support to our small businesses.”  

To be eligible for a grant, a small business or nonprofit 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 grant amount applied for according to City Business and Occupation (B&O) data. Nonprofits will be eligible if they are performing arts organizations, cultural institutions and organizations that provide technical assistance to businesses. To ensure businesses most likely to have experienced disproportionate financial loss are supported, funding will be prioritized for applicants that have inequitable access to capital, including applicants meeting any of the following criteria: Owned/led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (“BIPOC”); owned/led by women; located in a census tract with at least 30% poverty or not exceeding 60% area median income (consistent with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s eligible “low-income community” census tracts). All businesses and nonprofit organizations that receive a grant must commit to not reducing wages and benefits provided prior to the COVID-19 emergency. 

“I opened my business in 2019, and had not finished key things like my website and marketing tools before COVID hit. I am thankful I had all of my documentation prepared and was in a position to apply and receive a stabilization grant last year. I was able to use my grant to get a website developed, pay for necessary advertising and marketing tools, and keep the business afloat while I re-structured my operations completely. Because I had that support, I avoided shutting down when it was no longer an option to conduct business in person, and was able to design online consulting that has kept me in business,” said past SBSF grant recipient Jenea Burrell, owner of Hair Like Mines LLC.   

To assist small business owners in preparing the information necessary to apply for a grant, OED will host a virtual webinar on October 21 at 2 p.m. OED will record the webinar, and make the recording accessible on their website for interested applicants unable to attend live on October 21. Bilingual interpretation and translated materials will be available in Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Somali, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese. Interested applicants can register for the SBSF information session here. For accommodations, accessibility information or language access support, please contact the Seattle Office of Economic Development at 206-684-8090 or oed@seattle.gov.   For more information on all eligibility requirements and the application process, visit seattle.gov/SmallBusinessStabilizationFund. Applications will be accepted from October 19, 2021, through November 9, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

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