Summary of Commerce’s COVID-19 response efforts

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cause just a public health crisis, but an economic crisis as well. Since the start of the state’s response, Commerce has played a central role in delivering urgently-needed aid and support to businesses, local government, Tribes, nonprofits and struggling households. This is a summary of the agency’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Last updated: Oct. 14, 2021

Overview of emergency funds distributed by Commerce


For businesses and nonprofits

  • $415M in Working Washington (WW) emergency small businesses grants
    • $9.7M Round 1: $10,000 to 1,508 businesses.
    • $8.8M Round 2 via ADOs: $2500-$10,000 to 1,574 businesses.
    • $94.3M Round 3: $12,500 to an estimated 7,931 businesses (including $4,500 to approx. 660 resiliency grant recipients who happened to own businesses within priority sectors) 
    • $234M Round 4: Grants up to $30,000 to 11,728. 
    • $2.4M in Border Business Relief Round. Grants up to $50,000.
    • $50M Round 5: Approved by the Legislature and funded in the 2021-23 operating budget. Program still under development.
    • $30M foundational investment for the Small Business Flex Fund which provides low-interest loans to small businesses, particularly those in historically underbanked communities.

For more detail about the distribution of Working Washington business grants, visit our interactive online report.

  • $14.2M in grants to 89 shellfish growers, 111 farmers markets, 490 breweries, distilleries, wineries and cideries, and 149 to agritourism businesses, . This grant was in partnership with the Washington State Department of Agriculture. 
  • $10.8M for Nonprofit Community Recovery Grants in partnership with ArtsFund. View list of recipients.
  • $2.25M to support local chambers, in partnership with Association of Washington Business.
  • $1M to support tourism organizations, in partnership with Washington Tourism Alliance.
  • $2.25M to support 31 veterans non-profit organizations, in partnership with the state Department of Veterans Affairs. View list of recipients.
  • $1M to support microenterprises, in partnership with the Washington State Microenterprise Association. Program still under development.
  • $21.2M for business resiliency grants: $8,000 to approximately 2646 businesses.
  • $2.7M for a Small Business Resiliency Network of trusted community organizations that provide outreach and technical assistance to diverse small business owners in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways.
  • $11.8M Nonprofit Grant Assistance to by-and-for nonprofits in partnership with Philanthropy NW: grants awarded to 358 nonprofits (view list of awardees)
  • $9.9M to youth development organizations in partnership with Schools Out Washington: grants awarded to 441 organizations (view list of awardees)
      • An additional $4.9M to expand and increase awards to applicants; distribution still to be announced.
  • $1.5M to arts organizations for a first round arts grant in partnership with ArtsWA: grants awarded to 252 organizations (view list of awardees)
  • $300k for shellfish seed grant: assisted 43 growers
  • $1M Farm Workers Paid Leave Program: assisted 32 employers

More than $1.0b

For housing, rent assistance, Tribes and local governments

  • $505M for rent assistance ($153M ERAP/ $352M T-RAP 1.0): programs are administered through local partners and funds will provide an estimated 80,000+ households up to 13 months of rent assistance
      • The Legislature approved an additional $658M in T-RAP 2.0 for the 2021-23 biennium beginning July 1.
  • $3M for foreclosure assistance funds to help homeowners avoid foreclosure
  • $409M for 315 county, city and town governments not eligible to receive direct funding under the CARES Act (details below)
  • $3.5M in community development block grant (CDBG) funds (details below)
  • $30M for federally recognized Tribes
  • $3M for urban native organizations
  • $39.4M LIHEAP/low-income energy assistance ($16M direct from HHS + $23M from Gov’s CARES): administered through local partners; served an estimated 23,433 households
  • $11.7M Community Services Block Grant
  • $4.3M Emergency Solutions Grant
  • $7.5M Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funds for the Office of Crime Victim Advocacy

Division-level efforts to aid businesses and serve communities

Director’s Office

  • Creation of the Small Business Resiliency Network to provide culturally and linguistically relevant technical support and assistance to small business owners by trusted community messengers. The network started with 20 community-based organizations and is expanding to 31.
  • $3.2 million to 42 community child care planning projects in 27 counties. This funding includes $1.8 million in philanthropy donations secured by Commerce through the Safe Start Fund, contributed by the Ballmer Group in partnership with the Seattle Foundation. These are inclusive community partnership projects to help meet the unique child care needs of communities around the state.
  • $120k grant to Child Care Aware of Washington to supply child care providers with cleaning supplies, face masks and more
  • Agency operations changes so staff could work virtually and ensure continuity of operations, including contract management system enhancements and implementing electronic document signing options.
  • Pivoted the Community Engagement team to work on Working Washington grants and the Small Business Resiliency Network.

Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness

  • Created the Economic Recovery Dashboard
  • Secured $15M federal grant from the EDA for a package of Safe Start projects
  • When hundreds of manufacturers answered Governor Inslee’s call to retool to make PPE, Commerce staff and loaned executives from Impact Washington worked to help companies pivot to produce everything from hand sanitizer to face shields and masks.
  • Expanded ScaleUp program to provide free training and support to 256 small businesses trying to navigate the pandemic
  • Secured $35,000 USDA grant to teach ScaleUp: The COVID Edition program to 50 businesses in Kittitas and surrounding counties.
  • Revamped Commerce’s small business website to focus on COVID-related content and expanded disaster planning and COVID specific content on Commerce’s website.
  • Pivoted teams to work on Working Washington grants, including reviews of tens of thousands of applications and processing payments to recipients and answering several thousand calls and emails from small business owners and nonprofits.

Community Services and Housing

$11.7M for Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) to address the economic disruption of COVID-19. Commerce’s CSBG program administers funding, technical assistance and support to the Washington State Community Action Partnership and 30 community action agencies throughout Washington to provide residents with affordable housing, energy assistance, employment and education, asset development, emergency food, shelter, nutrition and healthcare.

  • $3M for urban native organizations to support the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This includes public health response, emergency response staff, medical facilities and telehealth capabilities, business and job support programs, and social supports such as food and housing. These funds went to:
    • American Indian Community Center
    • American Indian Health Commission
    • Chief Seattle Club
    • Seattle Indian Health Board
    • Urban Indian Health Institute
    • The NATIVE Project
    • United Indians of All Tribes Foundation
  • $55.7M for Emergency Solutions Grant to support activities such as street outreach, emergency shelter operations, homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing interventions and case management. Projects must be low-barrier with a Housing First orientation.
  • $10.9M in Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funds for the Office of Crime Victim Advocacy. Partners include the Department of Corrections, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Washington, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Office of Public Defense, Resolution Washington and up to 20  ‘By and For’ and statewide non-profits and local governments.
    • $2.7M to the Department of Corrections to support pandemic response efforts.
    • $1M to the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Washington to support forensic interviews.
    • $1.1M to the Office of Public Defense for public defenders not receiving support from the supported cities or  counties.                                                                                 
    • $1M to Resolution Washington to address impacts of the pandemic.
    • $400,000 to the Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence to provide funding for home visiting/flexible financial assistance.     
    • Commerce will split the remainder of the funding for two competitive opportunities among ‘by and for’ community organizations and nonprofits and local governments.
  • Commerce reached out to its Housing Trust Fund housing providers and offered to defer their scheduled loan payments to assist them through the pandemic. As a result, the program is in the process of amending 268 loans to defer a total of $13.2 million in loan payments that would have been due between 2020 and the end of 2022. 

Local Government

  • $409 million to 315 counties, cities, and towns. Funding went to local governments with less than 500K in population. These funds were used to support the costs of the local governments and for providing needed resources to their community, such as grants to small businesses and non-profits, food assistance, rent assistance, child care services, utility assistance, and more.
  • $1.8 million in community development block grant (CDBG) funds distributed to 17 rural counties receiving existing CDBG economic opportunity grants for economic, housing, and public health services to quickly fund COVID-19 response services in rural areas.
  • $7 million in CDBG-Coronavirus funds awarded to CDBG nonentitlement rural local governments for:
    • Subsistence payment programs (3-6 month short-term rent, mortgage, and utility payments)
    • Microenterprise assistance programs
    • Other public services: health, homeless, housing counseling, transportation services

$10.7 million in CDBG-Coronavirus funds for COVID hunger relief staffing and services grants to fund food bank staffing; and maintain/increase hunger relief program service levels in high poverty areas, fill in after National Guard withdrawal, extend Dislocated Worker Grant employment, stabilize staffing and support permanent employment.

$15 million in CDBG-Coronavirus funds for COVID surge response grants for cities and counties currently administering CDBG Coronavirus funds to expand/extend local & regional CDBG-Coronavirus-funded activities that respond to the surge of coronavirus cases.

    • $3 million in CDBG-Coronavirus funds anticipated, not yet underway, for COVID prevent-prepare-respond (PPR) grants. Flexible funds for emerging activities and partnerships that meet CDBG-CV eligibility, such as legal aid, child care, farm worker housing, etc.


  • $1.2M of LIHEAP funds to start a ductless heat pump pilot in January.

Funds have been set aside for low-income Weatherization clients throughout Washington to have Ductless Heat Pump (DHP) systems installed that will provide efficient heat to the home. The cost-savings of an energy-efficient DHP will directly affect utility bills for our low-income clients. Some of the agencies who have opted-in to this pilot may be able to leverage private and public utility dollars with the CARES funding. This would go directly to the project to benefit low-income clients and stimulate the home-construction economy further during the pandemic.

  • Members of the Housing Improvement and Preservation unit and the statewide Weatherization Technical Development Committee analyzed state safety guidelines and then wrote guidelinesto keep weatherization workers safe once they were allowed back into client homes. Commerce and the weatherization network coordinated with the Technical Development Committee, which led the review of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and L&I guidelines to come up with the best way to keep everyone safe while they were out in the field.

Data tool: federal ARPA fund distribution

This data tool shows how the Washington State Legislature allocated recent federal COVID relief funds from the America Rescue Plan Act.

Other Commerce effort highlights:

  • Drive-in Wi-Fi Hotspots Locator – Washington State Broadband Office in partnership with Washington State University Extension, Microsoft, Avista Foundation and Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), among others
  • Agency participation and/or leadership in:

Unified Command Group

EOC – 34 staff activated to EOC; dedicated leadership for EOC’s Business Response and compliance teams

Governor’s Safe Work, Economic Recovery Team

Energy Economic Recovery Task Force

ADO COVID response working group

Greater Seattle Partners Economic Recovery working group

Washington Recovery Group