City of Seattle Reaches $10 Million Milestone in Small Business Investment



The Seattle Office of Economic Development awarded over $10 million in Small Business Stabilization Fund grants to small businesses impacted by COVID-19

SEATTLE (April 27, 2021) — The Office of Economic Development (OED) recently awarded an additional 356 businesses $10,000 grants from the Small Business Stabilization Fund (SBSF), reaching a significant investment milestone of over $10 million in grants to small businesses throughout Seattle who have been impacted by COVID-19 since March 2020. Furthermore, OED awarded $3,150 grants to 647 restaurants and bars from an expanded COVID-19 relief package that specifically focused on restaurants, bars and hospitality workers announced by Mayor Durkan, Council President González, Councilmember Morales and Councilmember Mosqueda in December 2020. To date, nearly 1,500 small businesses and economic opportunity nonprofits have received over $10 million in funding.

“As more and more Seattle residents are getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19, hope is on the horizon — but many of our local small businesses are still facing a long and uncertain road to recovery. Working together in the early days of this crisis, we quickly created the Seattle Small Business Stabilization Fund, which has become a model for cities across our country,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “This pandemic and the resulting economic downturn have been devastating for too many of our small businesses. I am proud of the OED team for working tirelessly to get these funds into business owners’ hands as quickly as possible. Our region is on the road to recovery, but we are not out of the woods yet. As Seattle reopens, we all still have a role to play in ending this pandemic. Now is not the time to let up on our efforts. Please continue to wear a mask in public, keep your distance and limit social gatherings, get tested if you feel sick, and sign up to receive the vaccine.”

“Our small businesses have done everything possible to survive, support their employees and continue to serve our community. The need has been significantly greater than the resources the City has had access to. However, I am incredibly proud of the work our Office of Economic Development has done to provide some relief to as many of our small businesses as our resources allowed,” said Pamela Banks, Interim Director of the Office of Economic Development and Director of Recovery and Equitable Investments. “As we move toward long-term recovery, we will continue to support our small businesses’ ability not only to survive, but to thrive in our city. We will have to be creative in our solutions and intentional in how we implement recovery strategies, especially for our Black, Indigenous and other people of color businesses who have suffered disproportionately not just from COVID-19, but from institutional racism and disinvestment for generations.”

“The Small Business Stabilization fund provides a lifeline for hundreds of our local restaurants and bars hardest hit in this economic crisis,” said Seattle City Council President Lorena González. “Our small businesses are essential to the recovery and revitalization of our neighborhoods across Seattle. Together, we must remain focused on supporting hospitality industry businesses and workers as we continue to wait for federal dollars to meet the deep needs within our city.”

“Our economy, workforce and community are only as vibrant as our City’s small businesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have struggled while providing aid to so many,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, Position 8 (Citywide). “I’m proud to have worked with the Mayor, and my council colleagues, on funding to help keep small businesses afloat during our public health crisis. Small business grants are not the end of the conversation, as we must push for stronger and more equitable policies as we re-open and rebuild, including outdoor dining options, greater transit, and increased public spaces.”

“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve focused on direct assistance to workers and small business owners, to stabilize the economic recovery in our communities and keep working families whole,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales, Position 2 (South Seattle and Chinatown/International District). “As Council begins to allocate additional federal dollars to our city’s recovery, I’ll continue to fight for small businesses and workers, as we know a potential ‘fourth wave’ and emerging variants will continue to impact our city’s ability to return to normal.”

To prioritize funding to businesses that are most likely to have experienced the greatest economic impacts, OED awarded two-thirds of SBSF grants to businesses with five or fewer employees and from areas identified as highly disadvantaged or at high risk of displacement. To date, 66% of all SBSF grantees are from high-displacement or highly disadvantaged neighborhoods, 60% of the recipients identify as people of color and 43% are women-owned businesses. Additionally, OED allocated nearly 14% of grants from rounds four and five to creative industry small businesses to better support this industry and its workers.

In rounds four and five specifically, 54% of grantees are people of color and 46% are women-owned businesses. Of the grantees for restaurants and bars, 58% of business owners are people of color and 37% are women-owned businesses.

“I assumed ownership of the Hummingbird Saloon only six months prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19 forced the closure of my business and the laying off of my entire staff,” said Eric Weakland, owner of The Hummingbird Saloon and recipient of the SBSF. “Funds I have received from the city have assisted greatly in the reopening of my restaurant, and a majority of my employees have returned to work. They have my gratitude.”

“We are glad the dark clouds are finally passing with the immunizations happening. We are happy that the city is thinking of small businesses with the Small Business Stabilization Grant, because without it our doors would be closed right now,” said Frank Anduvate, owner of Rumba Notes Lounge and recipient of a Stabilization Fund grant.

For additional details on the demographics of grantees, please visit the SBSF dashboard. To view the full list of SBSF awardees and recipients of the restaurant and bar grants, please visit the Stabilization Fund Awardees page.

About the Small Business Stabilization Fund

In March 2020, OED quickly launched the Small Business Stabilization Fund to provide emergency capital to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The SBSF provides $10,000 grants to small businesses and economic opportunity nonprofits throughout Seattle. The latest rounds of the SBSF were funded by the joint COVID-19 relief bill that the Mayor and City Council passed in August 2020.

To be eligible for a grant, a small business or nonprofit was required to have 25 or fewer employees, be located within Seattle city limits, and have an annual net revenue at or below $2 million. Nonprofits had to explicitly provide economic opportunity support through education and/or job training programs to be eligible. All businesses and nonprofit organizations that received a grant committed to not reducing their employees’ wages and benefits provided prior to the COVID-19 emergency.

In December 2020, the City committed additional funding for restaurants, bars and hospitality workers. Whereas the Human Services Department administered grants for hospitality workers, OED partnered with Scholarship Junkies to administer grants to eligible restaurants and bars.

Selection process and new awardees

OED reopened the application portal for the SBSF in November 2020, receiving nearly 4,000 new applications. Due to the high volume of new eligible applicants, SBSF grantees for rounds four and five were selected from the same application pool. Grantees for the restaurant and bar grants were also selected from this same application pool.

OED awarded $10,000 SBSF grants to 237 small businesses and economic opportunity nonprofits in round four and an additional 119 businesses in round five, totaling $3,560,000 in funding. Additionally, $2 million in grants to 647 restaurants and bars were awarded. As a result, over $5.5 million additional funding has been released to support Seattle’s smallest and hardest hit businesses these past few months.

“I'm so thrilled to see that most of the small businesses in the Columbia City area seem to have survived the pandemic. I know that some of them have benefited from the city's support in these difficult times. It's so important to work to preserve our unique neighborhood character,” said David Egan, owner of Vino Verite and recipient of a SBSF grant.

OED continues to support business owners by connecting them to resources from the federal government such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, and other resources that are available from the state and philanthropic partners. OED also provides in-language technical assistance to access city, state and federal resources. Businesses can access this service by calling 206-684-8090 or emailing oed@seattle.gov. Bilingual assistance is available in Amharic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Somali, Spanish, Thai, Tigrinya and Vietnamese. To request in-language assistance, businesses can call 206-684-8090 and note the following information: name, phone number, preferred language and the type of support needed.

The Seattle Office of Economic Development is committed to building an equitable and inclusive economy that benefits the whole city by promoting access to economic opportunities for all of Seattle’s diverse communities. For more information, visit seattle.gov/EconomicDevelopment.