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 News and Resources
Seattle’s Commitment to Justice and Equity
The Office of Economic Development and the City of Seattle are committed to working for justice and equity and dismantling systemic racism and addressing police violence. At OED, we will continue to work toward building an inclusive economy for our City—where all people, especially communities historically excluded from the economic prosperity of our City and region, can thrive.
The escalating tensions in cities across our country are the result of the murder of George Floyd’s by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, the unjust killing of countless other Black people, and years of institutionalized racism, police violence, and other racialized injustices that put Black and Brown communities in harm’s way.
The outcry of this weekend has elevated the need for change, and Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best have addressed this traumatic reality and called for ongoing efforts to dismantle institutional and cultural racism — here in Seattle and throughout our county. You can read Mayor Durkan’s statement here.
Like many other cities across the country, Seattle has witnessed a public outcry for justice. Protests and demonstrations have occurred downtown, in the Chinatown-International District (CID), on Capitol Hill, and in other neighboring cities. They have been organized to mourn the loss of George Floyd and others who have died unjustly, and to call for ending police violence against people of color. The escalating tensions evident in these protests have illustrated our stark need for deep institutional and cultural changes.
Unfortunately, some individuals co-opted peaceful demonstrations to engage in chaotic and destructive behavior. This behaviors put the safety of protesters, law enforcement personnel, and other community members at risk. They have also added insult to injury for our small business community which was already struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collaborative Work to Restore our City
Volunteers continue to join forces with City staff to clean up and restore our city. These efforts are evidence of the overwhelming good nature and spirit of community we have in Seattle. Many staff from OED and other City departments have been working since last weekend to respond to the emerging needs of local businesses. We collaborated with our business district partners and businesses that donated lumber and other supplies to help board up and protect small businesses in the Chinatown-International District, downtown, and Capitol Hill. To date, we have responded to more than 160 requests for help.
We will continue these restorative initiatives. Now more than ever, we must join together to strengthen Seattle and lift up common goals of inclusiveness, justice, and prosperity for all.
If your business needs help or support during this challenging time, please reach out to the Office of Economic Development by emailing oed@Seattle.gov or calling (206) 684-8090.
Tips for Securing Your Business
OED’s Only in Seattle (OIS) team coordinates with Seattle’s neighborhood business districts to provide resources for community stakeholders, businesses and property owners, and local organizations. They are working actively to help businesses during this challenging time. Among other resources, they hosted a recent webinar focused on business safety and security. Find a recording from that webinar and related resources here.
The City also has provided several resources that can help you secure your business from vandalism and theft:
- Seattle Police Department – Securing Your Business
- Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection – Maintaining Vacant Business Properties Tips
- Seattle Department of Neighborhoods – Historic Preservation Securing Buildings from Vandals and Theft
King County Applies for A Modified Phase One under Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington Phased Approach to Reopening
Late last month, Governor Inslee announced updated Safe Start Washington plan for resuming recreational, social, and business activities. The updated plan establishes a modified Phase One, which allows certain businesses, construction and manufacturing, and outdoor recreation activities to resume under strict public health and safety guidance. You can find the full breakdown of modified Phase One guidance here, and the Governor’s business, worker, and personal activity guidance here.
Mayor Durkan believes that Seattle and King County are ready to enter a modified Phase One approach to reopening additional businesses – you can find her full statement here. Even as we apply for a modified Phase One, we all know that we aren’t out of the woods yet. This virus knows no boundaries and resurgence can happen quickly and exponentially if we don’t all do our part. As we begin to reopen our economy, businesses, and cultural institutions, we cannot relax all restrictions simultaneously.
Today, King County submitted a plan to the state Department of Health that would allow for limited and modified openings for a wide range of businesses and personal activities. The county’s application includes recommendations from King County local health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin that would:
- Allow all outdoor recreation permitted in Phase 2 in Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan
- Expand opening indoor fitness studios for one-on-one activities
- Allow restaurants to begin opening indoor seating at 25% of normal capacity
- Allow hair stylists and other personal services at 25% capacity
Find more more information about the application here:
We know that many of our business owners and residents have questions about what the King County application and the State’s guidance mean for them. The Mayor’s Office and the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) will continue to amplify information from the State as soon as we have it, and make sure materials are accessible and available in-language. In the meantime, you can visit the Washington state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) website for additional reopening guidance. We appreciate our residents’ patience, compassion, and collaboration as we navigate this unprecedented moment in real-time, together.
Upcoming webinar: Protecting the
health and safety of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
King County Public Health is partnering with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Labor and Industries will discuss safety protocols that need to be put in place in worksites.
The CDC has been working with businesses that have had positive cases, and will provide case studies and share information about considerations for testing the workforce, contact tracing in the workplace, and criteria for ending isolation and quarantine of positive and exposed workers. Register for this webinar
Wearing and Procuring Face Coverings
In accordance with a Public Health – Seattle & King County directive in effect since May 18, all workers and residents should wear cloth face coverings in all indoor public settings and outdoor public spaces where maintaining social distancing could be difficult, such as farmers markets. Please help minimize the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone safe by adhering to these regulations.
The City of Seattle created the Seattle Protects online marketplace to help businesses, nonprofit organizations, and residents purchase face coverings from local manufacturers. Seattle Protects is a new economic development and public health effort by the City to encourage local organizations in search of face coverings to purchase from Seattle-region midsize manufacturers and businesses that have pivoted to creating face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Association of Washington Businesses also has created a hub where businesses can get access to PPE and other resources to assist with reopening.
If you’d like to make your own face covering, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided tips and information; find their DIY instructions here.
State of Washington News and Resources
Quarterly Tax Reports Needed for Unemployment Claims
An unprecedented number of Washingtonians are applying for unemployment and business reports are crucial to finding out if they can establish a claim. Please do everything you can to provide your report information to the State on time.
We know that COVID-19 has disrupted operations for many businesses, and the Washington State Employment Security Department has programs to help. They have also made emergency rules to offer employers more leniency for meeting Unemployment Insurance deadlines. If you can’t file taxes on time because of COVID-19, you will need to request a penalty waiver in writing.
Small business resources and requirements workshops
The State of Washington is providing regular webinars with all the state agencies that interact with small businesses. Sign up on their website.
University of Washington Support for Business Communications
The UW Communication Leadership is offering pro-bono communications consulting to small businesses and nonprofits. They’re specifically looking to work with more businesses owned/operated by people who are black, indigenous, and/or people of color in Seattle’s Central District, Southeast Seattle, and South King County.
Some examples of support they can provide include:
- Communicating within your organization (internally) and with your audience (externally) from a distance
- Pivoting communications strategies, messaging, and business practices to continue in the face of COVID-19
- Creating videos and other multimedia assets while practicing social distancing
- Hosting online events
Stay up to date
Federal News and Resources
Paycheck Protection Program Loans
The CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses are still available. Many Seattle small businesses have been successful in applying , and nearly $150 billion remains available in PPP funds. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2020.
These loans help small businesses address financial challenges related to COVID-19 by providing salary replacement and funds for certain business operating expenses. If spent in accordance with guidelines, these loans can be fully forgiven.
All loan terms will be the same for everyone and are provided through financial institutions/ lenders. Find more information on this SBA webpage or in this Treasury Department Information Sheet for Borrowers.
The Office of Economic Development is here to help answer your questions and navigate the process of applying for PPP loans. OED continues to offer FREE assistance to small businesses and nonprofits with their PPP loan and loan forgiveness applications and has bilingual interpretation. Contact OED directly at 206-684-8090 or firstname.lastname@example.org to access this technical assistance.