Commerce awards $234 million in fourth round of Working WA small business grants

  • May 13, 2021

Over 20% of the 11,697 grantees say they will use funds to reopen

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded an additional $234 million in Working Washington relief and recovery grants to 11,697 small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Of those receiving grants, over 20% indicated that they will use the money to assist them in reopening, while the remaining said they will cover operating expenses.

“While we are through the worst of the pandemic, small businesses have been hit hard, especially in rural and ethnic communities, and in several industries such as hospitality and entertainment,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “We continue to focus our grant programs on sectors most disproportionately impacted or businesses most likely to be left out of federal aid programs, hoping to minimize the risk of a ’k-shaped recovery’ where some succeed more easily while others are left behind.”

More than four in 10 businesses awarded funding in this round are in the hospitality industry – accommodation and food services – while another 18% are service businesses, followed by retail, arts, entertainment and recreation businesses, health care and social assistance, construction and manufacturing respectively. Additionally, more than 40% of business owners self-identified as woman-owned, nearly 30% Asian American and over 7% Hispanic/LatinX. Grants were awarded in every county to businesses representing almost two dozen industries. A summary overview here of the first three rounds will be updated with round 4 data soon.

Round 4 grant amounts range from $12,000 to $30,000. If a successful applicant received a grant in one or more of the first three Working Washington funding rounds, that amount was deducted from the maximum award they were eligible for this time. Grants can be used only to cover expenses or costs incurred due to COVID-19 and that were necessary to continue business operations.

About 60% of the grants have been processed and businesses have received funds. Grant award e-mail notices and payments are being processed by Commerce’s contractors, Submittable and Payoneer. Grantees with questions or concerns can visit this online FAQ.

Working Washington grant funds were allocated by the Legislature from Washington state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan dollars.  To date, Commerce has administered more than $526 million in relief grants to small businesses and nonprofits in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

In addition, Commerce partnered with the Washington State Department of Agriculture for $15 million grants to small businesses that work in shellfish or craft beverage production, agritourism, and farmers markets. WSDA is reviewing applications now and estimates approximately 900 small businesses across the state will receive grants. More information is available here.

Commerce expects in the coming weeks to launch the Small Business Flex Fund, a new loan fund to aid small business reopening and recovery, and legislators approved a fifth round of $50 million for emergency small business assistance grants in the new state budget. Additionally, thanks to bipartisan legislation, Commerce will be able to deepen its strategic investments in regional efforts that advance manufacturing, and the agency will develop a plan to implement $138 million in federal funding through the State Small Business Credit Initiative. Commerce will also transition the small business resiliency network created as a pilot during the pandemic into an enduring program, helping connect small businesses with in-language, culturally competent technical assistance and business development services.

Learn about all small business assistance available through Commerce here.

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