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City Council Unanimously Passes Joint Proposal with Mayor to Provide $5 Million in New Grants to Support Small Businesses and Workers Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Small Business Grants to Focus on Restaurants and Bars; Worker Grants to Focus on Hospitality Industry 

Seattle (December 14, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, City Council President M. Lorena González, and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda today celebrated the City Council’s unanimous vote to provide a new $5 million relief package to support small businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to recent statewide restrictions needed to slow the surge of COVID-19, the $5 million will be directed toward small businesses and workers in the hospitality industry. $2.5 million will go to restaurants and bars, and $2.5 million will go to hospitality workers. Recent data indicates that over 600 restaurants and bars have permanently shut down in Seattle since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“In response to skyrocketing cases in our region and state, Governor Inslee rightly implemented statewide restrictions to curb indoor gathering and slow the spread of COVID-19. But there’s no denying these restrictions have impacted our small businesses and workers, who have been reeling from the pandemic for almost a year now,” said Mayor Durkan. “These emergency grants are intended to provide a lifeline to small businesses and workers most recently impacted. While these grants are a necessary aid, ultimately, real relief must come from the federal government. Congress must act immediately to finally pass an overdue COVID-19 relief package. Every day they fail to act, more small businesses close their doors for good, and more workers lose their jobs.”

“The City of Seattle is taking swift action to address the ongoing needs of small businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 economy and related restrictions. An additional $2.5 million to small restaurants and bars will support the ability of our main street businesses to keep their doors open and workers employed. Another $2.5 million in direct cash assistance to hospitality industry workers means thousands of families can remain housed and fed. The hospitality, restaurant and bar industry has been hardest hit by the COVID economy. These year-end investments will provide much needed relief ahead of a tough winter,” said Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide).

“As we near the end of 2020 and see hope on the horizon with a vaccine roll out, we must remember this crisis and its economic impacts are far from over. This additional $5 million effort is another step in keeping our small businesses open and workers stabilized, and is an investment in a faster economic recovery. We need Congress to act with urgency this week to expand COVID relief, extend unemployment insurance enhancements and prevent evictions. In the meantime, the City of Seattle again is stepping up to support hospitality industry workers and our small businesses, but much more is needed,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).

The $2.5 million in new grants for small businesses will target restaurants and bars that have been financially impacted by COVID-19. The City will not open applications for small business grants; instead, it will identify eligible grantees from the current pool of Small Business Stabilization Fund (SBSF) applicants. The most recent round of SBSF grants closed on November 30, and an initial analysis by the City’s Office of Economic Development shows that approximately 1,100 restaurant or bar owners applied for grants. All eligible applicants will receive grants to support continuing operations including outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Restaurants and bars who receive grants through this new relief package will remain eligible for an SBSF grant as well.

An additional $2.5 million in grants will go to cash assistance to hospitality industry workers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To be eligible for a grant, workers would need to demonstrate that they have been financially impacted by the pandemic, whether that’s through a layoff or reduction in hours. The City’s Human Services Department will contract with a third-party agency to conduct the application process and distribute the grants. The City intends to provide these grants in early 2021.

To date, the City has invested $8.6 million in small businesses through its emergency Small Business Stabilization Fund. Applications for the most recent round of funding closed on November 30. The City also has a number of relief programs for working people, including emergency grocery vouchers, rental assistance, and support for immigrants and refugees. The City’s Disaster Relief Fund for immigrants recently distributed $7.94 million to 3,730 applicants.

Residents and businesses can find a list of existing COVID-19 relief resources and policies on this website.