Serving Rural Communities

Place matters in economic development. Vibrant communities – places where people want to live, work and play – are crucial to grow, attract and retain business activity and jobs. Economic development and community development are two sides of the same coin. Ask us how Commerce can help support your goals.

Community Services

Bring services to rural communities

Commerce programs build stronger rural communities by helping maintain safe and affordable housing, providing indirect and direct assistance to families in need, and giving individuals and businesses a hand when disaster strikes.

Disaster Preparedness and Recovery provides small businesses with planning tools that will help them prepare and recover from natural and man-made disasters, from a robbery and hacking to a mudslide or earthquake.

Emergency Assistance is provided by Commerce directly and indirectly to communities through a variety of programs and collaborations.

Community Services Block Grant provides funding, technical assistance, and other support to community action agencies statewide for services to help alleviate poverty, revitalize communities, and empower low-income families to become self-sufficient.

Housing Trust Fund provides funds for affordable housing projects through a competitive application process, and has awarded almost $1 billion in funding and helped build or maintain nearly 40,000 units of affordable housing statewide.

Energy Programs

Commerce programs provide communities with assistance in improving the efficiency of public facilities, clean energy development, and energy and weatherization assistance for low-income families.

Energy Efficiency and Solar Grants Program awards competitive grants to reduce energy costs at the state’s public higher education institutions, local government facilities and state agencies.

Low-Income Energy Assistance Program assists low-income individuals in meeting their immediate home energy needs.

Washington Weatherization Program contracts with local programs to weatherize low-income homes and apartments.

Clean Energy Fund supports development, demonstration, and deployment of clean energy technologies that save energy and reduce energy costs. Puget Sound Energy was awarded a $3.8 million grant to help establish a lithium-ion battery backup assembly at a substation in rural Glacier. Craft3 provides commercial and residential energy loan programs to rural and urban low-income communities.

Business Assistance and Economic Development

Young female entrepreneur

Our teams work closely with local leaders to provide economic development technical assistance, promote small business and entrepreneurship and improve the economic climate.

Rural Small Business Initiative works with local, state, and federal partners to provide specialized technical assistance, access to capital, workforce development, marketing and training.

Growing Rural Entrepreneurs delivers workshops, forums, business plan competitions, mentoring, web resources and electronic and print materials.

Small Business Flex Fund offers low-interest loans of up to $150,000 for qualifying businesses.

Small Business Grants are periodically offered to help businesses rebuild, restart and recover in the wake of the pandemic.

Startup Wisdom offers entrepreneurs and startups 27 ideas for accessing capital, from the very traditional to the very out-of-the-box.

The Small Business Playbook is an easy-to-use “how-to” guide for business owners.

Washington Small Business Credit Initiative provides additional sources of capital through a Collateral Support Program, Capital Access Program, Craft3 Fund and the W Fund.

Global Entrepreneurship Month is a series of events, webinars, competitions, panels, showcases, and learning opportunities to help you start or grow a new business.

Northwest Economic Development Course offers intensive training in the basic concepts, methods, and strategies of local economic development. is the gateway for companies wanting to locate or expand in Washington.

Export helps small businesses connect with foreign markets and resources to grow through exporting.

Community Planning and Infrastructure

Two men planning a rural development project

Commerce programs provide planning and technical assistance to rural communities so that basic infrastructure, and public services and facilities can support sustainable growth and prosperity. Other Commerce programs award grants and loans to build or improve these facilities.

Growth Management Services provides planning grants and technical assistance that enables local governments to have adequate infrastructure to accommodate allocated growth and economic development opportunities while maintaining the quality of life.

Small Communities Initiative provides technical assistance to small, rural communities that are required to meet the same public health and environmental mandates as larger cities when updating their drinking water and wastewater systems.

Community Economic Revitalization Board provides funding to local governments and federally recognized tribes for public infrastructure that supports private business growth and expansion. Eligible projects for CERB funding include domestic and industrial water, storm water, wastewater, public buildings, telecommunications, and port facilities among others.

Public Works Board provides loans for the repair, replacement, rehabilitation, and expansion of local infrastructure systems to ensure public health and safety, preserve the environment, promote economic sustainability, and ensure proper system performance.

Community Development Block Grants provide grants to rural local governments to improve the economic, social, and physical environment and enhance the quality of life for low- and moderate-income persons. The program can fund a wide range of activities, including sewer, water, streets/sidewalks and other infrastructure; community facilities; economic development; housing rehabilitation; planning; and public services.