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Seattle Office of Economic Development directed $13M helping local businesses with relief and recovery for the Seattle Recovery Plan

The Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) provided $13M in federal recovery funds as part of the Seattle Rescue Plan. Today the City released the Seattle Rescue Plan: 2023 Performance Report (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023). The report highlights the incredible work that the City did utilizing federal recovery funds to address the devastating and widespread economic, social, and health-related loss, and deepened existing disparities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Seattle was one of the first cities impacted by the pandemic and we were one of the first to get federal relief funds to the community. Our programs were specifically designed with the aim towards closing the racial wealth gaps, interrupt displacement, and support near and long-term economic recovery and community resilience efforts. I’m extremely proud of the work we did and the dedication of our partners to create a more equitable economy,” said Markham McIntyre, Director, Seattle Office of Economic Development. 

An integral part of the Seattle Rescue Plan, OED provided relief to businesses, workers, and communities across the city through direct assistance, new programs, and technical support. All of OED’s recovery programs were informed through extensive community input and focused on supporting Small Business and Women and Minority Owned Business Enterprises; investing in Neighborhood Business Districts; and supporting the creative business sectors and workers. An Executive Summary of OED’s investments can be found here

Program highlights include direct assistance to businesses through a number of programs including Commerical Affordability, Neighborhood Economic Recovery Grants, Seattle Restored, Shop to the Beat, and the Small Business Recovery Fund. In addition, OED created pathways for technical assistance that supported restaurants, small businesses, individual workers, and retail through programs including Small Business Accounting and Business Consulting, Small Business Legal Technical Assistance, Small Business Recovery Navigation, Technology Access and Downtown Workforce Development. 

Program highlights include: 

Seattle Restored $500,000 

Seattle Restored provides technical and operational assistance to small businesses and artists operating short-term (averaging 3-6 months) pop-up locations in downtown storefronts. The pandemic resulted in many businesses shuttering, particularly in downtown, and significantly affected many small business owners, including artists and creative workers. A total of 33 businesses received services through the program in its first phase, establishing pop-up locations with CLFR funding and support. The pop-up locations included 13 art exhibits and 20 retail, food service, and QR code shopping locations around downtown Seattle. This pilot project is being expanded to other neighborhoods in its next phase and funded by payroll expense tax. Ongoing

“Seattle Restored allowed me to expand my reach to an audience that otherwise may have never experienced my art. It also gave me a peek into what a brick and motor [sic] could do for my business, sales, and exposure.” – Damon Brown, Creative Lou   

Small Business Recovery Navigation $150,000 

This program provides support to small businesses needing one-on-one technical assistance to get re-established, pivot their operations, or start a new business. From August 2022 to end of March 2023, the program received 694 service requests. Of these requests, 93% were served while the remaining 7% are being responded to. This program is intended for businesses located in high displacement neighborhoods, BIPOC-owned businesses, and businesses facing increased barriers in accessing technical assistance services. By providing navigation support for permitting, regulatory issues, and match-making opportunities, this program supports businesses and individuals to make more informed decisions on how to best move forward with their COVID-19 recovery plans. Service requests are responded to by OED and three other affiliate organizations: Friends of Little Saigon, Lake City Collective, and the Seattle Metro Chamber. Ongoing

Neighborhood Economic Recovery Grants $6M 

 OED invested the Neighborhood Economic Recovery Grants in two ways: through direct grants to neighborhood business district organizations and through a public request for proposals (RFP) process to support community-driven solutions from a broad range of applicants. Fifty-five organizations were awarded funding and supported a variety of projects that directly helped 1,967 businesses, thus helping communities and the local economy recover from the impacts of COVID19. This includes public space activations such as vendor markets, pop-ups, public art and music, and community events; physical improvements such as cleanups and lighting improvements; and/or other projects specific to neighborhood needs that served approximately 196,493 attendees. Ongoing