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Building on Mayor Durkan’s Small Business Relief Package, City of Seattle Announces Over $2 Million in New Investments in Small Businesses and Business Districts in Seattle

Office of Economic Development’s New Tenant Improvement Grants Issue $950,000 to Small Businesses Struggling with Commercial Affordability

Only in Seattle Initiative Awards $1.2 Million to Support Neighborhood Business Districts

Seattle (February 26, 2020) – Standing alongside small business owners and community leaders in the Chinatown-International District, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Councilmember Tammy Morales, and Office of Economic Development (OED) Director Bobby Lee announced over $2 million new investments in small businesses and neighborhood business districts. Mayor Durkan’s announcement builds on her recent announcement to help Seattle’s small businesses through her proposed Small Business Relief Package.

“We know that our small businesses and business districts are the economic drivers of Seattle. They provide good-paying jobs, serve as community gathering spaces, and enhance the culture and life of a neighborhood,” said Mayor Durkan. “But so many forces, whether that’s commercial affordability, or displacement, or a destabilizing event, are making it harder for small businesses to thrive in Seattle. It’s why we continue to take action to support them in moments of uncertainty, and they can count on us as a reliable partner and ally.”

The Mayor made the announcement at Phnom Penh Noodle House, a family-owned restaurant that was started 30 years agon by Cambodian refugees. After being forced to close in 2018, Phnom Penh will re-open their doors to the public thanks in part to OED’s Tenant Improvement Grants.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods, as they provide services and foster community. Though small businesses are critically important, they often lack the financial support they need from traditional banks to grow their businesses. The City wanted to step up, and become a financing partner to fill the gap through tenant improvement grants. I’m proud the City has dispersed a number of grants to small businesses, including two in my district, so business owners can make the tenant improvements they need to grow their business and thrive for years to come,” said Councilmember Tammy Morales (District 2, South Seattle & The C/ID). 

Only in Seattle collaborates with other City departments to invest in neighborhood business districts. In fall 2019, the Office of Economic Development worked to identify neighborhoods and determine investments to support the following types of business district activities: 

  • Business development (supporting small businesses, attracting new businesses); 
  • Marketing and promotion (events, social media, district promotion and branding); 
  • Clean and safe (graffiti removal, litter removal, lighting projects); 
  • Placemaking (catalytic development projects, public space improvements and activation); and 
  • Business organization development, including creation of a Business Improvement Area (BIA). 

In 2020, OED invested a total of $1.2 million in local business communities in 17 neighborhoods are developing, have developed, or are launching comprehensive, multi-year strategies. The following neighborhoods received funding in 2020: 

MLK/Othello – $150,000 Mt. Baker – $50,000
Chinatown-International District – $177,000 South Park – $50,000
Rainier Beach – $115,000 First Hill – $65,000
Central Area – $214,000 Greenwood/Phinney – $26,000
Hillman City & Columbia City – $51,000 Crown Hill – $10,000
Aurora Licton – $40,000 Capitol Hill – $80,000
Lake City – $115,500 Belltown – $30,000
Beacon Hill – $55,000 SODO – $10,000
Ballard – $10,000  

“OED is pleased to support the community efforts to bring back Phnom Penh into the Chinatown/ID, the legacy of the Ung family will continue in their new space. It’s an honor to serve our neighborhood business districts, and I am pleased with our Only in Seattle team for consistently finding new ways to support our small businesses,” said OED Director Bobby Lee.

In addition, the Office of Economic Development awarded $950,000 through the new Tenant Improvement Grants program. This new program works to help small businesses in neighborhoods experiencing rapid redevelopment and escalating commercial rents. In 2019, OED launched the Tenant Improvement Grants to fill financing gaps and help small businesses navigate rising commercial affordability.

“Building out a restaurant is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us, we have the resources to only do it once, and we have to do it right. Through the help of SCIDpda and Only in Seattle, we have the rare opportunity of staying in the neighborhood where we began,” said Diane Le, owner of Phnom Penh Noodle House.

The following businesses received Tenant Improvement Grants in 2019:

Central Area:

  • Barbeque Pit: $100,000: This business has operated for several years in the Central Area and had been recently displaced due to redevelopment. Financing made it possible for the business to relocate and develop tenant improvements at another location in the Central Area.
  • That Brown Girl Cooks / Communion Restaurant: $561,000: This business operates as a soul food catering and wholesale business in the Rainier Valley. Financing helped the business to establish a brick and mortar restaurant location at the Liberty Bank Building. This business is part of a community strategy to create affordable commercial space for Black-owned businesses in the Central Area, particularly near the 23rd and Union intersection. 
  • Earl’s Cuts and Styles: $50,000: This barbershop has been in the Central Area for over 25 years. Redevelopment at 23rd and Union displaced the business, and our financing made it possible for the business to relocate and build out new space at the Liberty Bank Building.

Chinatown-ID/ Little Saigon

  • Phnom Penh Noodle House: $140,000: The restaurant is a family-owned business started by Cambodian refugees more than 30 years ago. The business closed in 2018, and financing will help them to re-start the restaurant at a new location in Chinatown-International District.

Beacon Hill

  • Musang Restaurant: $100,000: This restaurant in Beacon Hill was started by a chef who grew up in the neighborhood, received her culinary education overseas, and came back to Beacon Hill to launch pop up restaurants. Financing will make it possible for the business to build out a permanent location in Beacon Hill.