By Aaron Allen
Seattle Medium Newspaper
The City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) recently announced that they will provide an additional 72 small businesses with $10,000 grants in a third round of Small Business Stabilization Funds (SBSF). According to the city, twenty-one percent of the businesses receiving aid are owned by African Americans, translating into 99 Black businesses out of 469 total businesses that have access to the funding by the SBSF.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says that the city’s small businesses have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the grants will provide much needed assistance to small businesses and non-profit organizations that employ less than fifty people.
“There is no doubt that our residents and businesses are feeling the deep impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis,” said Durkan. “This pandemic has put people out of work, caused families to struggle to put food on the table and pay rent, and caused some of our most beloved small businesses to shutter for good.”
It’s been nearly six months since start of the pandemic and many business owners continue to fight to stay afloat. Since March there have been three rounds of assistance, and many business owners, especially African American business owners, say they are just trying to hold it together.
Taryl Calhoun, owner of TNT Tax Services, says that the grants may not be for everyone, but that it’s important for all business owners to figure out what is the best path for their business to succeed during these trying times.
“One thing that is important is to do your research,” says Calhoun. “There is a lot of misinformation out there, so you have to do your own research.”
Calhoun, who took advantage of the assistance in March, says that the money helped stabilize his business, and like many others, he is making the necessary changes to survive.
“The money is just to help your business make it through this time,” says Calhoun.
“I have adjusted to the changes so of course I have gone remote, not everyone is coming into the office so, I am doing this remotely,” added Calhoun. “The monies [from the funds] are being used for business expenditures like leases and insurance, you know business things.”
In addition to the third round of stabilization funds, Durkan also announced the extension of the City’s moratorium on evictions for residential, non-profit and small business tenants as yet another tool to help keep businesses viable.
“The moratorium on evictions is one critical tool we have at the City to keep people in their homes and keep businesses afloat,” said Durkan. “Seattle led the way to create some of the first relief measures in the country and it is critical to maintain efforts like the eviction moratorium during this unprecedented time.”
Along with halting evictions, the order also prevents eligible small businesses and non-profits from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment during the moratorium.
“So many businesses are in need of assistance,” said Marilyn Anglin, owner of A New You Beauty Shop in Seattle’s Central Area. “Receiving the Small Business Stabilization Grant, it was like someone throwing me a life jacket at just the right moment.”
In March, OED quickly launched the Small Business Stabilization Fund to provide emergency funding to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Because OED received nearly 9,000 applications to the original round of the fund, OED did not re-open the application process for rounds two and three. OED prioritized businesses located in areas of the city that are high-displacement risk. To be eligible for the Small Business Stabilization Fund, businesses must have a physical location (including a food truck or a farmer’s market stand), have five or fewer employees, and the business owner must be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income.
Using federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars and private donations, the Small Business Stabilization Fund has provided 469 small businesses with $10,000 grants, with 80 percent of grants going to businesses in high displacement risk neighborhoods.
“When you support a small business, you are supporting families and our community. I am proud that our office has been able to invest in 469 small businesses throughout our city through the use of federal dollars and private donations,” said Bobby Lee, director of OED. “These grants are helping businesses survive this unprecedented crisis, support their employees and families, and continue to serve our communities.”
Credit: Source link