Supporting Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
Ryan Calkins

March 13, 2020

At Ventures, empowering individuals with limited resources is our mission. For that reason, we are acutely aware of the precarious circumstances our entrepreneurs find themselves in as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through our community. Not only are they facing the same health and safety concerns that we all do, but they also fear for their economic security. Our entrepreneurs are restaurant owners and caterers whose customers are no longer calling, artists and craftspeople who depend on tourism, and service businesses whose clientele are staying home instead of patronizing their businesses.

How Can I Help?

For many of us, the swirl of news can feel overwhelming. We want to do something, but we do not know how to have an impact. Right now, the best way to support Ventures businesses is to be a paying customer. Use our online business directory to find products and services to buy and restaurants and retail stores to shop at. At the top of your list should be our retail store, the Ventures Marketplace, in Pike Place Market, where dozens of our entrepreneurs sell their products.

I Need Help for My Business

For our business owners in need of support, the—Ventures program team—including coaches, contractors, and legal aid—is available now as always to help navigate the challenges that COVID-19 presents. Ventures has $20,000 to award in grants to local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Each grant is $500. Business grants are cash awards and do not need to be repaid. This first round of grants will close on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 8 pm and grants will be awarded by Friday, March 20, 2020. To be eligible for these grants, you must have graduated from our eight-week Business Basics Course and be making sales. Apply for a Ventures grant here – the application should take 25 minutes or less and award notifications will be emailed.

In addition, efforts are underway by federal, state and local governments to provide relief for businesses impacted by COVID-19. The governor has created a resource page for programs that are available to Washington businesses, and the mayor of Seattle has announced measures to provide some relief to businesses in Seattle.

The Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) has expanded the Small Business Stabilization Fund and they are focusing outreach on historically underserved small businesses that may be overlooked by the SBA’s disaster relief program. Grants up to $10,000 are available for qualifying business owners. To qualify for a grant from the stabilization fund, small businesses must have five employees or less, the owner must be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, the business must have a physical establishment, and the business must be financially impacted by COVID-19. Apply for a grant from the Small Business Stabilization Fund and OED will send financial assistance within one week.

What’s Next?

As circumstances around COVID-19 evolve, we will continue to provide daily updates here, including information on upcoming events, trainings, and meetings. We also appreciate any information that you can provide us about additional support for our entrepreneurs.