Pilot Program to Launch “Help Desk” for Small Businesses in King County
SEATTLE — The Port of Seattle Commission approved $650,000 in funding today to launch Community Business Connectors, an innovative two-year pilot program with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce aimed at providing direct service to underserved small businesses across King County.
The Community Business Connectors program will work like a help desk for small businesses, assisting them with referrals to a range of resources. Small businesses, community-based organizations, or anyone in the "hub" can submit a help ticket. Once a ticket is submitted through the online intake form, the Seattle Metro Chamber will assign the ticket to a "Connector" – a contracted organization or individual who knows about available resources for small businesses. This Connector will contact the business directly and provide referral options to business experts like advisors, lenders, and advocates.
“Businesses that survived COVID proved themselves to be resilient, but after several listening sessions with the community, it is clear that business owners now face lingering pandemic problems plus a whole new set of challenges around affordable leases, staffing shortages, inflation, rising interest rates, and more,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Sam Cho. “Getting out there now while federal relief resources are coming to states and local communities gives us the best chance of saving jobs and building stability in traditionally underserved communities and businesses.”
"Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, and this is especially true for small businesses owned by people of color who have faced higher barriers to accessing capital, receiving state and local relief funding, and pivoting to online sales,” said Seattle Metro Chamber President and CEO Rachel Smith . “For an equitable, inclusive recovery, we need to ensure that small businesses can get the direct support and resources they need not just to keep from falling behind, but so they can get ahead. We’re proud of this public-private partnership with the Port of Seattle – an economic development engine and Chamber member – to launch this pilot program to make it simpler for small businesses throughout King County to connect with trusted advisors.”Learn more