Last week the King County Council approved $4 million in supplemental budget funding for an integrated program to support small businesses in unincorporated King County – which includes many areas of the Snoqualmie Valley – that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council tasked the county’s Department of Local Services to administer the program – called the Small Business Assistance Fund – which includes a grant program and funding for technical assistance to help businesses navigate aid opportunities from federal, state, and other sources.
According King County, 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.
The King County Council voted unanimously to provide the $4 million 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 focuses 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 – including the SnoValley Chamber of Commerce – will help small businesses apply for grants and will also provide marketing and other support.
King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert said, “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.”