Relief coming for Seattle small businesses affected by coronavirus

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This story was originally published by KOMO-TV on March 25, 2020.

by Patrick Quinn, KOMO News Reporter

SEATTLE — Seattle small businesses have until midnight Wednesday to apply for a grant through the City’s Stabilization Fund.

“These first set of loans is to those smallest businesses, and if we can find ways to support people through this emergency, and get them loans so they can start back up, I think that’s going to help everybody,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan on Wednesday.

The City of Seattle has committed roughly $2.5 million to help small businesses struggling in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Downtown Seattle Association, 40 percent of businesses in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties will be “severely impacted” by the shutdowns after the coronavirus outbreak.

“There will be people that don’t get back on their feet, companies we know and love, that won’t be there 2-3 months from now,” said Jon Scholes, President of the Downtown Seattle Association.

“And we’re going to have to come together as a community, that hopefully in 4, 5, 6 months they do get back on their feet.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office said they have already received more than 7,000 applications from small businesses for initial funding.

Businesses who qualify will receive up to $10,000 from the City.

To qualify in this first round of funding, businesses must have 5 or less employees and have a physical business within Seattle city limits.

With such a demand, Mayor Durkan recognized that every applicant will not receive funding.

“We know it’s not enough because we have more people who need it than we’re able to give,” said Mayor Durkan.

Scholes said DSA is pushing for innovative ways to support businesses right now.

“Small businesses that I’ve talked to, if you could Venmo them some relief right now. I mean that’s the kind of efficiency and speed they’re looking for,” said Scholes.

WATCH: Scholes discusses federal aid during coronavirus outbreak

Scholes encouraged the public to buy gift cards and get your Christmas shopping done at local establishments now just to help tie them over.

On its website, DSA lists these “Downtown Deals” through the shutdowns.

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office highlighted the next round of City funding will be supported by philanthropic donations, expanding who can qualify to any small businesses.

When asked about the $2 trillion stimulus bill, passed Wednesday evening through Congress, Mayor Durkan said it was welcomed relief.

“I don’t think it’s going to be enough, but I tell you what I want to see, is get it done, and get money to people’s pockets as quick as we can,” said Durkan.

Durkan’s staff on Wednesday was digging through the stimulus bill to see how much could trickle down to Seattle.

Scholes, on Tuesday, echoed the Mayor’s sentiments, in that the federal aid is welcomed, but not enough.

“We’re going to need further stimulus efforts and packages, and we need to look at different tools than the different economic tools of the past. I worry about the small business administration and the state employment department and offices getting totally overwhelmed, because we’ve never seen this kind of demand from workers who are out of work, and small businesses who’ve had to close their doors.”