Seattle will spend $1.5 million on grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday.
The grants will be awarded to businesses that have five or fewer employees, are owned by someone at or below 80% of the area’s median income, have a physical establishment and are being hurt by the coronavirus crisis, the mayor’s office said in a news release.
The money will be added to the city’s existing Small Business Stabilization Fund, which was initially allocated $200,000 for 2020, Durkan’s office said.
Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED), which will manage the grants, will concentrate its outreach at businesses owned by immigrants, refugees, people of color and non-English speakers in neighborhoods dealing with displacement and gentrification, the news release said.
OED will start accepting applications immediately, including through an online form.
“Our small businesses have been devastated in recent weeks, and we know the crisis will be felt for months,” the mayor said in a statement. “With this fund, we’re investing directly in our most vulnerable small businesses and doing everything possible to keep them afloat during this unprecedented moment in history.”
Seattle is prohibited under state law from giving city money directly to businesses. The city’s $1.5 million will be sourced from the federal Community Development Block Grant program.
Earlier this week, Durkan announced Seattle would defer city business-and-occupation tax payments for some small businesses and set up a small-business recovery task force.
The mayor said more help is needed for Seattle’s small businesses from the state and federal government, and called on President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency.
City Councilmember Tammy Morales said “every Seattle resident who is healthy and able” should try to patronize local businesses during the coronavirus crisis. “We must continue to support them and each other,” she said.