In February, Mayor Jenny Durkan took community members out to lunch at Honey Court in the CID to show her support for the neighborhood which at that time was facing a drop in business support due to xenophobic fears related to covid-19. Back row left to right: Momo co-owner Lei Ann Shiramizu, Mayor Jenny Durkan, ICHS president and CEO Teresita Batayola, InterIm CDA executive director Pradeepta Upadhyay, director of the Office of Planning and Community Development Sam Aseefa. Front row: SCIDpda executive director Maiko Winkler-Chin, IE editor in chief Jill Wasberg, SCIDpda director of community initiatives Jamie Lee.

The International Examiner received a $10,000 grant this week from the City’s $2.5 million Small Business Stabilization Fund, as announced by Mayor Jenny Durkan. The fund provides $10,000 grants to small businesses financially impacted by COVID-19. Nearly 9,000 small businesses applied for the first round of the City’s Small Business Stabilization Fund, demonstrating that the need goes far beyond what the City can provide without further support from the private sector, philanthropic partners and economic relief from the federal government. 

“This grant helps immensely,” said Jill Hyesun Wasberg, editor in chief of the International Examiner. “We’re about as lean as we can get, and we’ve lost nearly all our projected and expected ad revenue as events have been canceled for the months of March, April and May. This grant is definitely helping us stay in business through hard times.”

Cities across the country, including San Francisco, Atlanta, and New York City, have reached out to learn more about the Stabilization Fund and try to replicate this model in their own communities. On April 1, Mayor Durkan signed into law her legislation to ensure the City of Seattle can accept donations, including for initiatives like supporting small businesses through stabilization funding and for families via food vouchers.

Comcast has donated $50,000 to address the urgent need for future rounds of the Stabilization Fund. This investment will help ensure the Office of Economic Development (OED) can continue providing direct capital assistance to small business owners struggling to support their employees and stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested individuals and organizations can donate to the Stabilization Fund by emailing [email protected].

“At the City, we’re doing everything we can locally to support our small businesses and workers during this unprecedented moment in history. Working together in the early days of this crisis, we quickly created this $2.5 million Small Business Stabilization Fund, which has become a model for cities across our country. With nearly 9,000 small businesses applying to the first round of the Stabilization Fund, it’s clear that the need far outweighs what the City can provide to our small businesses,” said Mayor Durkan. “I am grateful to Comcast for their commitment to help fund further rounds of the Stabilization Fund and support the small businesses that make Seattle the best city in the country. I urge all those who are able to support future rounds of this fund, and also support our small businesses by ordering pickup, delivery, or shopping online during this unprecedented time. While we to do everything we can at the City level to support small businesses, I will continue to advocate at the state and federal level to ensure our region receives the economic relief we need, both now and as we recover.

The $2.5 million expanded Small Business Stabilization Fund is funded by federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The federal government requires eligible CDBG small business awardees to have five employees or less and for the business owner to be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income. In addition, the Mayor directed OED to focus outreach on historically underserved small businesses, and nearly 80 percent of the 250 grantees identify as small business owners of color. After screening for eligibility, businesses were categorized as being from high or low-displacement areas of the City, and then awardees from each displacement category were selected by lottery. Weighting the investments towards high-displacement risk areas allowed the City to target businesses that are more likely to experience economic shocks. OED received around 80 applications when the department launched the first Stabilization Fund back in January 2020.

“The city’s initial investment in the Small Business Stabilization Fund is being used by micro-businesses to support their employees and to ensure they can stay in business during this crisis. We hope these grants give Seattle’s small businesses a lifeline, so they can re-open quickly once the immediate crisis is over and be part of the city’s recovery,” said Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis, and member of the Small Business Recovery Task Force. 

“The city’s grants to micro-businesses will help buffer the crisis, but the city must do more to ensure local businesses can remain in their storefronts and are not pushed out during this crisis. When we keep local businesses in place, it means we can keep dollars and jobs in the local economy, which in turn builds community wealth,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales, a member of the Small Business Recovery Task Force. “I want to thank the Office of Economic Development for moving quickly to distribute these grants, and am hopeful the next round of grants, including those provided by our private partners, will focus on micro-businesses owned by minorities and immigrants and refugees.”

“We recognize the important role that small businesses play in our economy and our community. Now more than ever they need our support and we are pleased to do our part,” said Rodrigo Lopez, Regional Senior Vice President of the Comcast Washington region. “We also know that internet service is essential and are working hard every day to ensure that our network is helping both businesses and residents across of our community keep connected.”

The City also recently launched the #SupportSeattleSmallBiz map, which helps residents find small businesses providing takeout or delivery in their neighborhood. The map allows users to search for open small businesses in their neighborhood and navigate directly to a business’ website or third-party delivery service page. As of April 8, 1,198 small businesses are included in the map, which has been viewed 185,000 times. If you’re a business owner interested in adding your information to the #SupportSeattleSmallBiz map, please contact the City at [email protected].  

 Mayor Durkan and the City of Seattle have worked to implement a series of actions that support artists, nonprofits, small businesses, and workers, including:  

 

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