Brian Surratt, the Director of the Office of Economic Development, issued the following statement about the proposed 2018 Federal Budget:
The cuts and eliminations in the proposed 2018 Federal Budget will be devastating for Seattle. For the Office of Economic Development (OED) we are particularly concerned about the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), which helps fund programs that foster a healthy economy, like the Only in Seattle program. Through the Only in Seattle program, OED is using CDBG funding to support training and assistance to low-income businesses and local revitalization efforts:
- CDBG Funding being used in 12 different Seattle neighborhoods to support business organization and retail development, to promote work to enhance neighborhood business districts to improve their safety, appearance and pedestrian environment.
- Immigrant and minority-owned low-income businesses will receive training and assistance on how to stabilize, grow and compete in an increasingly competitive mark, often facing issues of gentrification
CDBG funds also give us the flexibility to respond to urgent community needs. For example, in 2016 we used CDBG funds to help stressed businesses on 23rd Avenue.
Without CDBG funds, the City will face tough decisions and may need to eliminate programming used to support small businesses.
In addition to cuts to funding used by the City of Seattle to help small businesses, we are very concerned about cuts to funding for scientific research. Seattle was poised to be the city that cures cancer. Without federal funding, the life sciences in Seattle will suffer, and lifesaving cures will be delayed. This budget is deadly.
We are also keeping a close eye on the impacts of this budget on our community partners. In 2016 as part of TechHire, $3.8M was awarded to Seattle Central College in partnership with LaunchCode, Ada Developer’s Academy, Unloop, Workforce Development Council, Seattle Education Access, and Floodgate Academy. Though the City did not receive direct funding through this grant, the Office of Economic Development is serving in a project management and convening role, towards the goal of 2,000 people by 2020. This Department of Labor grant will be distributed over four years, and started in July 2016.
These are just a few of the hundreds of ways this budget will have a negative impact on Seattle. We advise the community to reach out to their representatives and ask them to oppose cuts and program eliminations.