On Thursday, May 21, the Only in Seattle (OIS) team hosted a webinar with neighborhood business districts and partners to provide relevant and timely information for small businesses. The OIS team coordinates with Seattle’s neighborhood business districts to provide resources for community stakeholders, businesses, property owners, and local organizations to achieve economic development outcomes determined by the community.
In response to COVID-19, the OIS team continues to work with business districts and community partners to provide resources and improve language access for small businesses. In this webinar, Michael Wells and Jennifer Tam from the Small Business Development Team provided an update on Governor Inslee’s “Safe Start” phased reopening plan and resources for small businesses.
Neighborhood peer sharing focused on feedback business districts are hearing from businesses, top questions or concerns businesses have, and strategies businesses have adopted during the pandemic. Participants voiced the need for clear, simplified information and guidelines for re-opening that is both visual and translated. Other key topics discussed include customer education, new social behaviors due to the pandemic, technology barriers for businesses, and public safety.
Strategies that were shared by neighborhood business district partners include:
- Visuals and photos showing examples of compliance and guidance
- Continued assistance for businesses (in language) from OED into recovery phases
- Creative use of public spaces to allow businesses to engage in public realm
- E Commerce platforms and web-based strategies to help businesses
- Continued focus on takeout and delivery during Phase 2
- Buying gift cards and using them creatively, e.g. membership, giveaways, community building
- Extend commercial eviction moratorium and support businesses with lease/ space issues.
Partnerships and tools to support business district recovery projects were also discussed during the webinar. Design Elements Inc. (DEI) Principal + Creative Director Sarah Greene shared their Support Local platform to create an online neighborhood marketplace. Support Local currently works with Ballard, Pioneer Square, and Capitol Hill on local online marketplaces to help businesses provide convenient online shopping experiences. Zeacon Chief of Staff Rich Kim shared a model for experiential commerce. This includes partnerships with small businesses to create virtual experiences, as well as larger virtual community and fundraising events.
OIS will conduct business district webinars every 2-3 weeks answering questions and concerns businesses may have. Previous webinars include public safety and connecting businesses to resources. If there’s a topic or a question that neighborhood business districts would like to cover in a future webinar, please email Heidi Hall, Heidi.Hall@seattle.gov.