Departure Monday, many small Washington businesses that have been financially affected by the COVID-19 restrictions can apply for grants of up to $ 25,000 from the state Department of Commerce.
The grants are part of a fourth round of $ 240 million in assistance to small businesses through the state Washington Work Program. The funds are aimed at helping small, physical businesses cover costs such as rent, as well as pandemic-related expenses such as additional sanitation facilities and personal protective equipment.
The grants are available to businesses that operate from a physical location other than a residence and that generated revenues in 2019 between $ 25,000 and $ 5 million. According to the ministry, these “big companies”, which often help anchor shopping centers and shopping districts, have often had to shut down or significantly reduce their operations due to public health restrictions.
“This is the store you pass or used to pass by every day, when you drove to work or used for lunch or coffee, or you used to drop your dry cleaning, ”said Lisa Brown, director of the State Department of Commerce, which manages the grants.
The funding of $ 240 million is almost double the amount of the previous three cycles combined, and the maximum grant size of $ 25,000 is 25% more than the previous maximum.
The new round is also designed to distribute funds equitably throughout the state and to include historically underserved populations – among them, businesses in rural or low-income areas and those run by minorities, veterans, women and men. members of the LGBTQ + community.
The department’s website offers grant applications in 16 languages, and support is available from the ministry and partner community organizations in 40 languages.
Officials encouraged all “qualifying brick-and-mortar businesses that were required to shut down or significantly reduce their operations due to public health and safety measures to be enforced,” according to the ministry’s website.
Companies that were declined in previous rounds can reapply in the fourth round, as can those that received funds in previous rounds – although any prior award may reduce any ongoing award.
The funds come from the roughly $ 10.6 billion Washington state will receive under the $ 1.9 trillion US federal bailout act signed by President Joe Biden last month.
The exclusion of businesses with annual sales of less than $ 25,000 or that do not have a fixed business location reflects the focus of the fourth round on businesses with ‘significant costs’, such as rent, who have “probably had to face the most significant challenges in paying these significant costs due to the mandatory closings,” says the Department of Commerce website.
This focus on physical businesses is also intended to help business owners, many of whom offered discounts to tenants during the pandemic.
Many small businesses that are not eligible for this final round were eligible for previous rounds, and may also be eligible for future rounds of grants, Brown said.
State lawmakers are debating another round of subsidies in the legislative budget, Brown said.
The Commerce Department is also exploring a recovery loan fund that would provide businesses with low-interest loans of up to $ 100,000, Brown said.