OED invests in community-driven solutions to support thriving business districts throughout Seattle
SEATTLE (September 21, 2022) — Today, the Office of Economic Development (OED) is announcing the opening of the 2023 Only in Seattle Initiative (OIS) grant. Through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process, OED is investing $1.2 million to support community driven economic development projects with a focus on racial equity and social justice. Neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations who support local small businesses and communities can apply for grants up to $200,000 to fund projects that help build community partnerships, provide resources to local businesses and strengthen neighborhoods throughout Seattle.
“Seattle’s neighborhood business districts are not only essential economic drivers, but they also make up the heart and soul of our communities,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “By investing in community-driven projects that center equity and social justice, the Only in Seattle initiative will help revitalize our commercial cores and build resilient, vibrant neighborhoods where small businesses can grow and thrive.”
The OIS Initiative works to build an equitable and vibrant city by investing in neighborhood business districts that are centers of local commerce, community and culture. From business coaching, community festivals, litter cleanup, murals, outreach and real estate development, OIS grants allow neighborhood business districts to apply multiple strategies simultaneously to affect desired neighborhood improvements and revitalization. The OIS initiative supports activities such as:
- Organizing – creating and strengthening nonprofit organizations that can collaborate and work on neighborhood based economic development action plans
- Marketing & Events – marketing strategies and events that bring customers to business districts and create a positive, consistent image of neighborhoods.
- Business Development – helping local businesses stay and grow in the neighborhood
- Neighborhood Improvements– Improving the physical appearance and features of neighborhood business districts, such as parking, public spaces, transportation access, beautification.
- Clean & Safe – Projects that focus on keeping neighborhood business districts clean, and customers, employees, and visitors feel safe and welcome.
“Seattle is a collection of incredible neighborhoods. Every neighborhood, from Othello to Northgate, from West Seattle to Capitol Hill and all points in between, has a story to tell and businesses to show off. Through the “Only in Seattle” initiative, OED invests in organizations and leaders across Seattle to lift up their efforts that help our neighborhoods thrive.” said Markham McIntyre, Director of OED.
The OIS RFP has three options for applications:
- Organizing: Proposals to create and/or strengthen neighborhood-based business district organizations, or outreach activities to create action plans for a particular business district
- Short Term Projects: Proposals for one-time funding for neighborhoods that have a local organization such as a chamber of commerce, Business Improvement Area, community development organization, or other similar group that supports the business district and have a current action plan.
- Current Only in Seattle Partner Projects: Proposals for additional funding to support ongoing projects.
Eligible applicants can be business organizations, community organizations, cultural districts, consultants, or a group of individuals that support neighborhood business district strategies. If an applicant does not meet all eligibility requirements, they can have a sponsor organization accept and manage the grant on their behalf (fiscal sponsor). All eligibility requirements can be reviewed here.
OED will accept applications for the RFP in two phases:
- Phase 1: Current Only in Seattle contracted partners can submit applications from September 20, 2022, through October 18, 2022.
- Phase 2: New applicants can apply from September 29, 2022, through October 31, 2022.
All applications are due by 5 p.m. and must be submitted through the Fluxx application portal. All eligible and complete applications will be reviewed and individually scored using a selection criterion by a review committee. Applications must be submitted in English; however, bilingual staff are available to answer questions and help applicants complete the application. To request translation or interpretation services, please call (206) 684-8090.
OED will host two information sessions to explain the program and answer questions:
- Virtual: Friday, September 30, 2022, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
- In person: Friday, October 14, 2022, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the Douglas-Truth Library (2300 E Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98122)
“The Only in Seattle grant program has been instrumental in neighborhood wide efforts to support our small businesses and helping to bring positive change to our community. From support for our business incubator program, activating public spaces in our commercial district, and directly service to our small business owners, the initiative continues to be critical to many of our Lake City successes.” said Chris Leverson, Project Manager for Build Lake City Together.
“The OIS program continues to enable small businesses in the Central Area neighborhood business district to thrive and continue the legacy of BIPOC-owned entrepreneurship.” said Dennis Comer, Program Manager for the Central Area Collaborative.
For more than a decade, OED has invested in neighborhood-based economic development strategies that foster thriving business districts across the city, strengthen capacity of business district organizations, support local small businesses, and support community-driven economic development priorities. In 2021, as part of the city’s response to COVID-19, OED developed the Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund (NERF), modeling the investment after the longstanding OIS initiative. The infusion of federal resources allowed OED to invest an additional $6 million of CLFR funding into neighborhood recovery grants that have supported community driven solutions to reignite the local economy with an intentional focus on promoting racial equity.
“Our Only in Seattle Initiative has had great success over the years and has allowed us to develop and foster deep relationships with leaders and organizations across our city. NERF was one of the first recovery programs the city was able to invest in community, because we had our OIS initiative as a roadmap, and the community relationships in place to serve businesses across the city.” said Theresa Barreras, Business District Director at OED. “We look forward to the seeing the innovative ideas community organizations will propose that will build on the great work happening throughout our neighborhoods.”
The Seattle Office of Economic Development is committed to building an equitable and inclusive economy that benefits the whole city by promoting access to economic opportunities for all of Seattle’s diverse communities.
The City of Seattle encourages everyone to participate in its programs and activities. For additional questions, translation or interpretation, technical assistance, disability accommodations, materials in alternate formats or accessibility information, please contact the Office of Economic Development at (206) 684-8090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.