The King County Council on Tuesday approved $4 million in supplemental budget funding for an integrated program to support small businesses in unincorporated King County that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council tasked the county’s Department of Local Services to administer the program, which includes a grant program and funding for technical assistance to help businesses navigate aid opportunities from federal, state, and other sources. The allocation to the Department of Local Services was part of a larger budget supplemental to address COVID-19 impacts across the county.
COVID-19 and the public health measures needed to curb its spread have had devastating economic effects in King County.
In response, the King County Council voted unanimously to provide $4 million in supplemental budget funding to the Department of Local Services to create a grant program and work with local chambers of commerce and neighborhood community groups to provide technical assistance to small businesses across unincorporated King County.
The measure provides $3.5 million in grants for small businesses, $400,000 in technical support, and $100,000 in language access support.
The grant program will focus on licensed businesses in unincorporated King County that have up to 15 employees, have been in business longer than three years, have up to $1.5 million in gross annual revenue, and have not yet received aid from other sources.
Grant selection criteria will be developed with input from county councilmembers whose districts include unincorporated areas. The ordinance directs the grant program to consider applications from businesses located in, or owned by members of, communities that have been disproportionately impacted by inequities and discrimination.
The $400,000 for technical assistance will allow the Department of Local Services to partner with local chambers of commerce or community-based organizations that provide support to small businesses. Those agencies will help small businesses apply for grants and will also provide marketing and other support.
For information, visit kingcounty.gov/localbusinesshelp
Council Chair Claudia Balducci: “Small businesses located across unincorporated King County constitute a vital part of our community and a foundation for much of what makes our economy thrive. We know they are suffering during this critical time where social distancing is necessary and I’m proud that the county’s emergency funding can support them as they work to rebuild and prosper again.”
Councilmember Joe McDermott: “I was proud to have run the amendment that doubled the amount of financial support proposed going specifically to the unincorporated King County business community. This initial investment in chambers of commerce, community organizations and direct grants to small businesses with a strong focus on equity for our neighbors who have been historically disadvantaged is a crucial piece of the puzzle the county can contribute in the broader recovery effort we face as a region, state and country in the months ahead.”
Councilmember Girmay Zahilay: “I hope the actions we took today will provide needed relief for the people and small businesses in unincorporated communities like Skyway. We will continue to listen to King County residents and work hard to address the many issues we’re facing during these perilous times.”
Councilmember Kathy Lambert: “The survival of small businesses across unincorporated King County will be vital to our economic recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding makes a down-payment on relief and recovery efforts to protect small businesses and their employees. These relief programs will help small businesses stay open and maintain employees, while also providing crucial assistance to help these businesses receive more funding from the federal and state government, as well as other sources.”
Councilmember Reagan Dunn: “Unincorporated King County is home to many small businesses that are especially vulnerable to the economic impacts of COVID-19. As the pandemic persists, we need to give these small businesses as much help as we can to make it through.”
Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer: “As the unincorporated areas are reliant on King County government as their local government, I am pleased that the Council has taken the initiative to support small businesses,” said King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “This measure will provide needed relief and support to job-producing businesses feeling the impacts of COVID-19.”