On April 7, 2020, applications for the first round of the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants went live on the Washington State Department of Commerce (Commerce) website. Commerce administered the funds for the relief program, and through Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) – the designated Associated Development Organization (ADO) for Spokane County – deployed $583,133 across the county to small businesses to offset operating and other costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over a two-week period in April, GSI and other local business development organizations received 1,851 applications, then 166 screened applications were forwarded to Commerce for final award decisions. 69 Spokane County businesses were selected for grants of up to $10,000. GSI has been responsible for managing the grant contracts over the last year.
Among the selected pool of grantees were 24 restaurants, 12 retail establishments, 7 construction companies, 7 healthcare businesses, 3 manufacturing companies, 3 hospitality establishments, 1 salon, 1 graphic design business, 1 preschool, 1 trade show service, and 1 management company. Grantees represented 26 women-owned businesses, 11 minority-owned businesses, 8 veteran-owned businesses, and 2 tribal-owned businesses.
Over the last few months, GSI has collected survey responses from 57 of these businesses indicating just how impactful the Working Washington grant dollars were for their business.
Every business that responded to the survey indicated that they are still in business today, with the help of the Working Washington grant. The grants helped retain a total of 342 employees, with 81 new hires. 17 of the businesses indicated that the funding was crucial to keep their business open, and that they would have closed without it. The majority of the funds were used on rent, utilities, supplies, and general operating expenses when revenue streams were at an all-time low.
GSI partnered with Commerce through three additional rounds of Working Washington relief funding and continues to advocate for small businesses in the region.