Small business grant program gets additional $5 million infusion

Thursday, April 23, 2020

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OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced a doubling of funds available to very small businesses impacted by COVID-19 through the Working Washington Small Business emergency grant program. The program launched April 7 with $5 million from the state’s $200 million emergency response fund approved by the Legislature in March, and this new $5 million comes from the Governor’s Working Washington economic development strategic reserve fund.

Skagit County, which received about 400 applications, will now have about 24 grant recipients of up to $10,000 each, rather than 12 as originally estimated. Grant money can be used to pay rent, utility bills, supplies, inventory and other operating expenses.

Local economic development organizations, including EDASC, are reviewing applications from their communities and referring to the state for approval. Funds are expected to start reaching businesses in May.

The program was initially overwhelmed with an estimated 25,000 applications and forced to close applications early. The state does not plan to reopen the program to new applications at this time but will be able to fund more requests with the additional funds announced today. Depending on the individual grant amounts, at least 1,000 businesses should receive funding, and likely more. Based on submissions reviewed so far, Commerce officials say most are under the $10,000 maximum amount.

Other assistance is available to small businesses, including new funding approved this week for the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) forgivable loan program known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  For more information on PPP, go to sba.gov.

In addition, Commerce partnered with local organizations throughout the state to offer business resiliency assistance to small business owners in culturally and economically disadvantaged communities to help provide them equal access to the multiple local, state, federal and other business relief programs.

“The impact of COVID-19 is devastating for multi-ethnic businesses who were already struggling to survive under ‘normal’ conditions,” said Ben Cabildo, President, African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American Business and Professional Association (AHANA). “We have to ensure that these businesses are made aware of and are able to access disaster relief, which is why our outreach is focused throughout communities of color to include language access and maximum use of trusted leaders and organizations.”

Some counties, cities and other sources may also have assistance of various types available to businesses. Find the most current information and resources for businesses and workers on the state’s coronavirus web portal at www.coronavirus.wa.gov.

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