The City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) is committed to keeping you updated about new developments in these quickly changing and challenging times. In this weekly blog, we’ll provide you with news and information about new policies and resources available from the City of Seattle, King County, the State of Washington, the federal government, and our private and philanthropic partners.
City of Seattle and King County News and Resources
King County moves into Modified Phase 1 under Governor Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” Plan
On Friday, June 5 the Washington State Department of Health accepted King County’s plan to allow for limited openings of recreational, social and businesses activities in a modified Phase 1 of Governor Inslee’s Safe Start reopening plan. You can read more about what activities are allowed under the modified Phase 1 application here.
More changes are in the works. On June 15, King County submitted an application to the state Department of Health to move King County to Phase 2 of the Safe Start recovery plan following approval of the plan by the King County Board of Health. We will keep you posted about the status of that application and what it will mean for our city’s small businesses.
For additional resources, please see:
- Governor COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses and Workers
- Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
Nonprofit, small business, & residential eviction moratoriums extended through August 1
Consistent with the State of Washington’s recently expanded eviction moratorium, the City of Seattle has extended its moratoriums on evictions of nonprofits, small businesses, and residents through August 1, 2020. To get help if you are having difficulty paying rent, please see our Lease Amendment Toolkit.
Tips for Staying Healthy and Safe from Public Health – Seattle & King County
Public Health – Seattle & King County reminds all of us to continue physical distancing and infection control practices. They have encouraged everyone to follow these tips to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Avoid extremes. Protecting yourself and your community is not an “all or nothing” approach. Continue to make cautious, risk assessment decisions about how you interact with others.
- Continue to follow safety principles, including frequent handwashing, wearing cloth face coverings in public, staying at least six feet from others, and avoiding group gatherings.
- Get tested at the first sign of COVID-19 symptoms. More information about testing, including free test sites, is available online.
- If you’ve attended protests or other large gatherings in recent weeks, help protect one another and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
Adhering to these guidelines will help reduce the number of COVID-19 cases across King County and will move the county closer to further reductions in business and activities restrictions as part of the State of Washington’s Safe Start plan.
You can find more information and additional resources here.
Find Your Next Job through the Seattle Public Library
- Get started with unemployment
- Search for jobs
- Apply for jobs
- Learn new job skills
Through one-on-one appointments via phone, text or online conferencing, staff will help job seekers be successful on career and educational pathways, including job seekers with little or no digital literacy skills and those who have limited English proficiency. Find support for computers basics, such as using email, creating a SAW (Secure Access Washington) account to start an unemployment claim, and navigating online resources.
Staff can answer questions by phone in Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, English, French, Hindi, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Oromo, Russian, Spanish, Somali, Tagalog, Thai, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese. One-on-one appointments are available in English, Mandarin, and Russian, with more language options coming in early July.
For access to job resources, visit SPL’s website.
No Special Events permits this summer
On June 11, the Seattle Special Events Committee voted to not issue Special Event permits through September 7, 2020. At this time, Seattle and King County are in Phase 1.5, and large gatherings are prohibited. Gatherings of over 50 people are not considered until Phase Four.
The Special Events Committee is currently accepting and will review applications for events after Labor Day, and the Committee is developing processes that event organizers can use to incorporate State and public health requirements in their events.
The City of Seattle continues to monitor developments from the Governor’s office, and guidance from Public Health—Seattle & King County, the Washington Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention regarding COVID-19.
State of Washington News and Resources
Protecting high-risk workers
On June 9, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the extension of a proclamation giving high-risk workers the right to protect themselves from COVID-19 without jeopardizing their employment status or loss of income.
The proclamation provides older workers and those with underlying health conditions a series of rights and protections, including:
- The choice of an alternative work assignment, including telework, alternative or remote work locations if feasible, and social distancing measures.
- The ability to use any accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work assignment is not feasible and the employee is unable to safely work. Employers must maintain health insurance benefits while high risk employees are off the job.
- Employers are prohibited from permanently replacing high-risk employees.
High-risk individuals are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and specifically include:
- 65 years of age or older; and
- People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled.
Paycheck Protection Program Loans
PPP funds are still available for small businesses, independent contractors, nonprofits and tribal businesses whose operations were impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak.
Recently, Congress approved the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. This legislation provides more flexibility for small businesses who receive these loans. Additionally, new and revised PPP guidance was recently issued that expands eligibility for businesses with owners who have past felony convictions.
The loan forgiveness terms have changed to:
- A decreased threshold required to spend on payroll from 75% to 60%;
- Allow for 24 weeks, instead of eight weeks, to meet the threshold; and
- Extend pre-COVID staffing levels from 6/30/20 to 12/31/20.
Interested borrowers can apply for a PPP loan through one of 5,500 participating lenders including banks, credit unions, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), Minority Depository Institutions (MDI), Farm Credit Lenders, and Microlenders. Plus, information and forms are translated into 17 languages.
Last week, new and revised PPP guidance was issued that expands eligibility for businesses with owners who have past felony convictions.
The deadline to apply for PPP is June 30, 2020. Please call the Seattle Office of Economic Development at 206-684-8090 from Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email OED at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime to receive free assistance.
You can ask for language assistance and receive interpretation over the phone.For additional information and links to great resources, SBA Pacific Northwest Region has compiled a helpful document, “5 Things to Know about PPP.” Read about businesses that have received PPP loans and more about how to apply here.
If you’ve received a PPP loan and need more information about how the money must be spent in order to be forgiven, OneRedmond is sponsoring a webinar that will cover this information on Thursday, June 18 from 10-11:30 a.m. Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will review and break down the recent significant changes and what they may mean to your business.
Click here to register.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Loan Advance now available
The Small Business Administration (SBA)’s EIDL program offers long-term, low interest assistance for small businesses and non-profits affected by COVID-19. On June 15, SBA began accepting new EIDL and EIDL Advance applications from qualified small businesses.
EIDL loan assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt, or fund other expenses. Small business owners are able to apply for an EIDL Advance of $1,000 per employee up to $10,000. The loan advance, which will not have to be repaid, is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue.
Nonprofit & Philanthropic News and Resources
Support for nonprofits
The COVID-19 crisis has hit the nonprofit sector — which supports the most vulnerable among us — especially hard. To help, the Puget Sound Business Journal (PBSJ) has partnered with The Seattle Foundation and All In Washington to help the business community partner with nonprofits needing support.
On Friday, June 26, 2020, PSBJ will publish a special COVID-19 Giving Guide.
A portion of PSBJ’s proceeds from this endeavor will be donated to The Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
To learn how your business can participate, contact Marijane Milton at email@example.com