Seattle program helps small businesses apply for stimulus loans as COVID enters next phase

Downtown Seattle and view of Space Needle, Washington, USA

As the state prepares to put the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview mirror, the Seattle Economic Bureau has prepared $8 million in loans for businesses to start getting back on their feet.

Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Office of Economic Development (OED) announced the Access to Capital Program on Tuesday. The program aims to connect small businesses with flexible loans, up to $150,000, to help them recover over the long term.

Just a month ago, COVID-19 infections had just started to decline following the omicron surge.

Now, state and local leaders are moving quickly to end basic pandemic policies, like the eviction moratorium, vaccine verification and mask mandates.

READ MORE: Washingtonians can now order monthly COVID home tests

Business appears to be back to normal soon, but it has been a long two years for local professionals, many of whom have been forced to lay off staff, cut hours or close.

This new program is intended to help them get the wheels back in motion.

“For a true pandemic recovery, our small businesses must have real support from the City of Seattle, and this new capital access program means significant, tangible resources to have an immediate impact,” Mayor Harrell said. . “I heard loud and clear that small businesses in Seattle need financial support – and confidence in the city government. This new capital access program represents the action and proof we are listening to – an urgent investment of stimulus funds and a real commitment to supporting our city’s thriving small businesses. »

The Capital Access Program uses money from the city’s COVID-19 recovery funds to lower the cost of the Washington Small Business Flex Fund. This money pays 25% of the loan principal, allowing small business owners to borrow up to $150,000 at 4% interest.

Loans can be used for payroll, utilities, rent, supplies, advertising, repairs, construction, and other business expenses.

Applications open March 8 and are due April 8 at 5 p.m.

“This new Access to Capital program addresses the urgent needs of small businesses trying to recover from the pandemic, especially BIPOC and immigrant-owned small business owners who often lack sufficient equity to obtain loans from mainstream banks or have greater difficulty navigating the loan application process,” said Board Member Sara Nelson. “Not only will this program help entrepreneurs obtain a loan, but it will also alleviate their long-term debt. This is precisely the kind of investment we need to make to help stabilize our struggling small businesses, retain jobs and reduce displacement in our most vulnerable communities. I applaud Mayor Harrell, the OED and our CDFI partners for their innovative leadership and look forward to future opportunities for creative collaboration.

To be eligible for the program, a small business must:

  • Be for-profit and located within Seattle city limits
  • Have experienced direct economic disruption due to COVID-19

It must also meet two of the following three factors:

  • No more than $5 million in annual revenue in 2019 or 2020
  • No more than 50 full-time equivalent employees
  • No more than two locations

To apply for a loan for your business, submit an application on the Small Business Flex Fund website. You can also join a virtual information session, hosted by Business Impact NW, to learn more about fundraising success. You can find the virtual session times here.

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