Within one month, GSBA received 500 applications from predominantly LGBTQ-, BIPOC-, and women-owned small businesses seeking financial assistance
Ilona Lohrey (She/her)
GSBA – Washington State’s LGBTQ & Allied Chamber of Commerce IlonaL@thegsba.org
Andy Colley (He/him)
SEATTLE (September 16, 2020) – The Ready for Business Fund – a relief program launched by GSBA, Washington State’s LGBTQ & Allied Chamber of Commerce, and Comcast Washington, will begin distributing $2,500 cash grants to more than 60 small businesses in the metro Seattle area that are owned by LGBTQ people, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and women. The fund was established on Aug. 3 with $50,000 from Comcast Washington and GSBA as the fund administrator.
Within one month, GSBA received 500 applications for the fund. In the same period more than $200,000 was raised to support the Ready for Business Fund. Support included a second $50,000 contribution from Comcast, a $25,000 donation from T-Mobile, and funding from AT&T, BECU, Grace Church Seattle, Harborstone Credit Union, Microsoft, Puget Sound Energy, Sanctuary Seattle Church, Seattle Storm, US Bank, Verity Credit Union, and several generous community members. These funds will now support groups of business owners who run local restaurants, bookstores, bistros, shops and stores, which are an important part of the social fabric in our community.
“Unprecedented challenges are facing our small businesses. Aid such as the PPP and EIDL loans offered by the federal government didn’t work for many small businesses. Since early this spring, I’ve spoken with small business owners who’ve found the loans complicated, were turned down by banks, or feared they wouldn’t be able to repay the loans” said Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO. “That’s why GSBA and Comcast Washington moved fast to address this urgent need. We are humbled, that in this time of such great hardship, the community stepped up and came together to support one another.”
Chernin serves on the City of Seattle COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Task Force, established by Mayor Jenny Durkan to address COVID-19 economic impact on the small business community, alongside business chamber leaders and small business owners from across the city.
The Seattle metro area has witnessed the shuttering and closure of local-owned small businesses being devastated by COVID-19 and the economic downturn. The risk to the small business community is underscored by feedback from the business owners who’ve applied for grants from the Ready for Business Fund. They report a devastating impact, including up to 85 percent loss of annual revenue, being forced to lay-off employees, and significant loss of business due to proximity to demonstrations in Seattle.
Businesses surveyed about the grants and funding said the funding will be used on necessities such as paying for rent, bills, payroll, and groceries. Of the businesses who applied, 67 percent identify as women-owned businesses, nearly a quarter identify as LGBTQ-owned businesses, and 36 percent as BIPOC-owned businesses.
“Small businesses need us. And if the current challenging times have taught us anything, it’s how interconnected and interdependent we all are to one another,” said Diem Ly, Community Impact Director, Comcast Washington. “When people ask why a big company like Comcast wants to help small businesses, I explain that it’s our social responsibility to offer help when our communities need us most. This is personal for us. We and our customers care about and patronize these same local small businesses, and we know if our local economies can thrive, we all benefit.”
GSBA assembled a selection committee consisting of diverse community and business leaders throughout the region, who are now combing through the hundreds of applications received. Grant applicants will be notified during the week of Sept. 21 about the status of their application, and awards will be delivered beginning the next week. Applications for Ready for Business Fund grants were accepted through Sept. 4, 2020. Applicants not selected during the first round will remain in the pool and be considered for the next round of funding.
All grant recipients will receive wrap-around services from GSBA and Comcast Washington, including membership, advertising, and consulting. Additionally, Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, will award the first 20 grant recipients with the following benefits:
- Marketing Support: includes television commercials from Effectv that align the grant recipient’s brand with programming from top cable networks, as well as online advertisements from Comcast Business to potential customers.
- Expert Consultation: Access to virtual learning assets and business resources, as well as consultation and educational support around technology needs.