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: Jan. 5, 2022

Overview of Commerce Distributed Emergency Funds

Businesses and Nonprofits

  • Working Washington (WW) emergency small businesses grants. For more detail about the distribution of Working Washington business grants, visit CommerceGrants.com for the small business grant report.
    • $10M Round 1: $10,000 to 1,508 businesses. (April 2020)
    • $10M Round 2: $2500-$10,000 to 1,574 businesses. (August 2020)
    • $100M 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. (December 2020)
    • $237M Round 4: Grants up to $30,000 to 11,727 businesses. (April 2021)
    • $3M in Border Business Relief Round. Grants up to $39,000 to business and nonprofits in 10 counties with a Canadian land or port crossing. (October 2021)
    • $50M Round 5: Program still under development and will not launch until after the 2022 legislative session.
  • $30M foundational investment for a public-private Small Business Flex Fund which provides low-interest recovery loans to small businesses, particularly those in historically underbanked communities. The fund includes $55.5M in additional private investment.
  • $16M in grants to 89 shellfish growers, 111 farmers markets, 490 breweries, distilleries, wineries and cideries, and 149 to agritourism businesses. This WSDA COVID-19 relief and recovery grant was in partnership with the Washington State Department of Agriculture. (April 2021)
  • $11M for Nonprofit Community Recovery Grants in partnership with ArtsFund. View the list of Nonprofit Community Recovery Grant Awardees (May 2021)
  • $2.25M to support local chambers, in partnership with Association of Washington Business.
  • $1M to support tourism organizations, in partnership with Washington Tourism Alliance.
  • $2.2M to support 31 veterans non-profit organizations, in partnership with the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • $5M to Associate Development Organizations for technical assistance
  • $2M to support microenterprises, in partnership with the Washington State Microenterprise Association.
  • $18M for business resiliency grants: $8,000 to approximately 2600 businesses + an additional $4,500 to about 660 grantees that also qualified for WW Round 3.
  • $3M 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.
  • $12M Nonprofit Grant Assistance to by-and-for nonprofits in partnership with Philanthropy NW: grants awarded to 358 nonprofits (View list of awardees)
  • $15M to youth development organizations in partnership with Schools Out Washington: grants awarded to 441 organizations in Fall 2020 (view list of awardees) and 223 organizations in Spring 2021 (view lists of awardees).
  • $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 (Spring 2020)
  • $1M Farm Workers Paid Leave Program: assisted 32 employers (2020)

Housing and rent assistance for tenants and landlords

  • $1.1B for rent assistance: programs are administered through local partners and funds will provide an estimated 80,000+ households up to 13 months of rent assistance
  • $3M for foreclosure assistance funds to help homeowners avoid foreclosure
  • $3M to support Dispute Resolution Centers and eviction resolution programs

Visit our housing and rent assistance web page for a summary of rent assistance spending, as well as information for tenants in 36 languages.

Tribes and local governments

  • $409M for 315 county, city and town governments not eligible to receive direct funding under the CARES Act (details below)
  • $3M for urban native organizations
  • $39.4M LIHEAP/low-income energy assistance: 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

Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness

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 $13.2M in loan payments that would have been due between 2020 and the end of 2022.

Local Government

  • $25 million in Coronavirus Capital Projects Account funds (CCPA) distributed to 15 projects by the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to construct high-speed broadband infrastructure and provide service in rural and under-served areas.
  • $44.7 million in CCPA funds distributed to 15 projects by the Public Works Board (PWB) to construct high-speed broadband infrastructure and provide service in rural and unserved areas.
  • $409M 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.
  • Nearly $98 million in CSFRA funds distributed to 26 infrastructure improving access to clean drinking water, and investing in wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
  • $1.8M 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.
  • $20M in CDBG-Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funds to rural ($11M) and urban ($9M) cities and counties for local/regional:
    • Subsistence payment programs (3-6 month short-term rent, mortgage, and utility payments)
    • Microenterprise assistance programs
    • Locally prioritized public services, including health, homeless, food bank, housing counseling, and child care services
    • Community facility renovations and operations
  • $11.4M in CDBG-Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funds to workforce development and food program partners for COVID hunger relief staffing and services, to maintain/increase hunger relief service levels in high poverty areas, fill in after National Guard withdrawal, extend Dislocated Worker Grant employment, stabilize staffing, and support permanent employment.
  • $3-5M in CDBG-Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funds for COVID prevent-prepare-respond (PPR) grants. Awards to date include:
    • $950,596 for children advocacy centers responses to COVID impacts on child abuse
    • $1 million to support legal aid services for COVID impacted, underserved persons in Central Washington State
    • $494,320 for emergency distribution facility upgrades and operations

Energy

  • $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 guidelines to 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