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Black History Month 2024: Supporting and growing Black-owned businesses

Seattle has a rich and deep history of Black and African-American communities and businesses. We’re proud to celebrate that history and highlight events in the community.  You can learn about more events from the Department of Neighborhoods 2024 Guide to Black History Month Events in Seattle.

In addition to supporting our local Black and African American owned businesses, OED is focused on Building BIPOC Community Wealth to close the racial wealth gap to grow our economy and make it more inclusive. In partnership with community, we have created programs offering a continuum of real estate, finance, and market expansion strategies which supports Black, Indigenous, and people of color business owners to purchase leased property.

These are some of the resources and programs our office offers to help grow and sustain Black- and African American-owned businesses.  

The Liberty Project
This new innovative business growth project working to increase revenues owned by people from underrepresented communities in Seattle – particularly Black-owned businesses.  

Using the M3 model, the program provides services to Seattle businesses that:

  • Improve their management capacity.
  • Grow access to money through loans and investments.
  • Increase access to markets through corporate and government contracting opportunities and access to new customers in downtown Seattle and throughout the region.

Selected businesses will participate in the program for one year, then will be part of an alumni network offering ongoing assistance and support. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Learn more about the Liberty Project and apply here.

The Business Community Ownership (BCO) Fund
This investment model addresses the rising cost of commercial rent in Seattle, which often affects neighborhoods and businesses owned by people of color, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ+ people. These communities continue to have less access to capital due to systemic inequities, racism, and related barriers.

The BCO Fund secures fixed, affordable rents for business owners. This financial stability keeps current neighborhood businesses in place and brings displaced business owners back to their communities. Read more about the BCO Fund.

Seattle Restored
This program matches small business owners and artists with vacant commercial storefronts to host pop-up shops and art installations. The project aims to minimize the up-front investment and risk business owners take to test their product in the market, learn at a lower cost, and offer a longer runway to success.

It also benefits neighborhoods and property owners by creating vibrant and engaging streetscapes that encourage the public to visit downtown Seattle and other commercial corridors to support local businesses and artists. Learn more about Seattle Restored.