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The Seattle Office of Economic Development Executive Summary

Seattle Rescue Plan: 2023 Performance Report (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) 

Seattle, like all other cities and communities across the country experienced significant impacts from COVID-19 on our small businesses, workers, industries, neighborhoods, individuals and families. To combat the economic, social and health effects of the pandemic, the Seattle Office of Economic Development directed $13M of the Seattle Rescue Plan providing emergency cash assistance for small businesses, workforce development, and technical assistance.  

Black, Indigenous, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, immigrant, refugee, and low-income communities were disproportionately impacted as existing inequities were exacerbated by the pandemic and ongoing institutional racism. OED created relief programs with community through an equity lens and investments were informed by extensive public outreach with constituents, advocacy and public interest groups, community-based organizations, and community leaders. 

The following programs were created and led by OED to provide near and long-term economic recovery and community resilience efforts. Through collaborative partnerships, our investments, strategies and programs work to achieve an inclusive economy and resilient communities to create a Seattle that is a vibrant, innovative, diverse city with an inclusive economy that ensures all Seattleites can thrive and share in the new opportunities of the future.  

Commercial Affordability $1.8M 

This program provides funding and technical assistance support to small businesses that are located in high displacement neighborhoods; owned by Black, Indigenous, and other People of color and/or owned by women; and demonstrated disproportionate financial loss as a result of the pandemic. Funding supported 38 businesses (22 through CLFR funds) for commercial tenant improvement projects or moving to a new commercial space. Half of the CLFR recipients were restaurants. Technical assistance for this program provides these businesses with the knowledge to establish solid operational systems for their space. In addition, extra funding was awarded to businesses whose original budgets were below $100k and needed more funding to complete their project. 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

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 gave us the opportunity to have a brick-and-mortar presence without the overhead costs typically associated with renting commercial property. This allowed us to reach new and different customers, to test out space configurations, and to dream about having a storefront of our own, which is something we hadn’t previously thought possible. After participating in Seattle Restored we have a clearer vision for our business’s future and growth goals.” – Natassja Schulz-Uraine, Rescue Vintage. 

“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   

“The program we as artists and locals have been waiting for! Welcome back to Seattle!” – Xin Xin, Artist 

Shop to the Beat $120,000 

Shop to the Beat matched local musicians with small retail businesses for in-store performances during peak shopping hours. By facilitating in-store performances, this program increased foot traffic and sales for retailers, while also providing competitive pay for musicians. In total, 128 performances occurred at 49 different small businesses in 2022. Performance peaked around the holiday season in November and December of 2022. Complete

Downtown Workforce Development $292,574 

This program funded a Virtual Hiring Hall that connected 177 un-and under-employed BIPOC jobseekers with higher-wage positions, including union jobs. The Virtual Hiring Hall was run in partnership with Partner in Employment (PIE), a workforce development organization. PIE provides one-on-one assistance with navigating the job application process and provides in-language job readiness training. PIE supports virtual hiring hall applicants, immigrants, and refugees to access wrap-around services to remove employment barriers. Complete.    

Small Business Accounting and Business Consulting $225,000 

This program provides technical assistance to help small businesses manage and strengthen their financial systems and operational strategies. A total of 410 businesses received services through this program. Most businesses either identified as non-employer businesses (57%) or businesses with only 1-5 FTEs (38%). The vast majority of businesses reported their gross revenue at or below $100,000 (90%). This is part of a broader suite of resources that help new or established businesses, so they are better equipped to access capital and navigate a long and uncertain recovery ahead. Technical assistance is provided through targeted contracts with specialists who deliver general education/workshops and one on one consulting. Ongoing.  

Small Business Legal Technical Assistance $275,000 

Small Business Legal Technical Assistance provides technical assistance to small businesses on key legal issues such as: understanding terms in commercial leases, contracts, and insurance policies; eviction moratoriums; rent debt issues; business restructuring; and legal education related to business re-opening, including mitigation of neighborhood impacts and special permit requirements. Partner organization Communities Rise worked with a total of 106 different recipient’s half of which participated in a monthly small business clinic. Legal technical assistance on these key issues is needed to help small business owners resolve outstanding debt and overcome other obstacles in the path of recovering from the pandemic. Ongoing.     

Small Business Recovery Fund $3.2 M 

To help small businesses recover from the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, this program lowers the cost of small business recovery loans provided by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). City CLFR funds made the CDFI loans more affordable for small businesses by paying down 25% of the loan principal.  City funding helped small businesses qualify for loans, access a larger amount of financing than stand-alone grants, and lower loan payments. This provided small businesses with the type of patient capital needed for the long recovery period. So far, a total of 264 businesses have received funding through this program. Funding was provided across 20 industries, with restaurants receiving 25% of the funds. Reported revenue for businesses receiving funding varies from less than $100,000 to $5M, with most businesses making between $100,000 to $250,000 last year (25%). Ongoing

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

Technology Access $580,000 

This program increases small businesses’ access to digital resources, with a focus on outreach to BIPOC business owners. A total of 118 businesses received technical and digital access support ranging across many different industries, with just over half of these businesses self-identifying as retail and restaurants. Ongoing