Working Washington Small Business Grant program gets additional $5 million infusion; $10 million now available to address some of estimated 25,000 applications from businesses up to 10 employees

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. New funds are from the state’s $200 million emergency response fund approved by the Legislature in March. The program launched April 7 with $5 million from the Governor’s Working Washington economic development strategic reserve fund.

“Economic recovery is a top priority,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Safe return to public life will look more like a turn of the dial, than a flip of the switch. We continue to do everything we can to support and help small businesses weather the storm today and prepare for a safe return to work soon.”

“These funds support very small businesses, many of which have not been able to access federal business assistance programs,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “We are focusing where we know assistance funds will immediately recirculate and strengthen communities.”

The Working Washington Small Business grants offer up to $10,000 to businesses with up to 10 employees. Grant money can be used to pay for rent, utility bills, supplies, inventory and other operating expenses.

The program received an estimated 25,000 applications and subsequently closed to applications last Friday. 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.

Commerce’s partner local economic development organizations (based in all 39 counties) are reviewing applications from their communities and referring to the state for approval. To date, over 1,100 are in the approval pipeline, with funds expected to start reaching businesses in May.

“The need for small business relief is extreme and urgent. We received over 750 applications and are working as quickly as we can with a team of community volunteers to process them so that we can see the benefits take hold and multiply throughout our community,” said Jonathan Smith, Executive Director, Yakima County Development Association.

Other assistance is available to small businesses, including new funding proposed by Congress 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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