|Small business owners and nonprofits across Washington can start applying today for low interest loans of up to $150,000 through the newly-launched Small Business Flex Fund. The Fund is a public-private partnership aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits – particularly those in low-income communities – recover and grow as communities across the state reopen for business.|
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Newly-opened Small Business Flex Fund program offers low-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits
The Washington State Department of Commerce this week launched a new Small Business Flex Fund. The Fund is a public-private partnership aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits – particularly those in low-income communities – recover and grow as communities reopen for business. Gov. Jay Inslee in November 2020 approved a foundational investment of $30 million for Commerce to create a recovery loan program. Commerce is partnering with several financial institutions and community-based organizations to lend $100 million or more to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees and annual revenues of less than $3 million.
Qualifying businesses and nonprofits can apply for loans up to $150,000. Loans are available in 60- or 72-month loan terms at interest rates between 3-4.5%. The Fund works with and through local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which serve under resourced communities and underbanked businesses the Small Business Flex Fund aims to help. Interested applicants pre-apply on the Flex Fund’s online portal and, if they qualify, will be matched with a lender. Once matched, the participating lender will assist the business owner throughout the application process and provide additional advisory support. If a business doesn’t qualify, they will be connected to a trusted community organization that can assist with finding other resources. For more information and to apply, visit smallbusinessflexfund.org.
Employer tax relief
With a goal of supporting businesses, the state legislature is stopping more than $900 million in employment taxes from being charged in 2021 and another $1.8 billion in the future. Learn more on the Employment Security Department’s employer news and updates page. Also new this year, the legislature set aside $500 million in an unemployment insurance relief account, directing assistance to many of the hardest-hit industries. Employers will see these adjustments on their December tax rate notice. Read more about how the Legislature is helping employers with employment taxes for 2021 and beyond.
Trainings and Webinars
State Department of Commerce launches new round of no-cost ScaleUp Business Trainings
ScaleUp: The Rebuild Edition is focused on helping small businesses restart and rebuild by improving their strategic decision-making, creating new operational efficiencies and strengthening the bottom line. Topics include creating efficient business systems, improving product/service alignment, creating a stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace, understanding financial statements and key business drivers, increasing sales leads and improving the sales funnel. A special “study hall” provides additional opportunities for private mentoring and coaching. The cost of this program valued at $1,599 is provided at no cost to Washington state businesses thanks in part to a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Registration information can be found at http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/programs/scaleup/. For further questions, contact James Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 464-6051.
Grow Your Business – free July 14 webinar
Grow Your Business is a free, one-hour webinar for established businesses that are actively seeking opportunities to grow their business from beyond its current model – new markets, new products, new locations, new staffing, and new financing. Its focus is on government-supported opportunities and assistance and regulatory impacts of growth to factor in your planning. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. The next webinar is scheduled for July 14 at 2 p.m. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. Click here for more information about the SBRR webinars and to register online
Start Your Business – free August 10 webinar
Start Your Business is a free, one-hour webinar for aspiring entrepreneurs or newly-started businesses to gain valuable information about business registration and licensing, other regulatory requirements, and resources for further assistance. The next webinar is scheduled for August 10 at 2 p.m. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. Click here for more information about the SBRR webinars and to register online
The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open.
During this live webinar we will discuss:
- What is the Restaurant Revitalization Fund
- Who is eligible to apply
- How much money you can get
- How funds can be used
- How and when to apply
- Where to get help with your application
Staff from SBA will be answering your questions live throughout the presentation with dedicated Q&A time at the end.
Who should attend: Current small business owners who have experienced pandemic related revenue losses who own a restaurant, bar, and other similar places of business that serve food or drink.
What you should know about
April 9 deadline for Working Washington Grants: Round 4
The application portal is still open! This program is administered by the state Department of Commerce and focuses on brick-and-mortar for-profit small businesses, especially those that were required to close due to public health and safety measures. Grant awards will be up to $25,000. Visit commercegrants.com for information. Materials are available in multiple languages and technical assistance teams are ready to help with questions.
WSDA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Grants for ag-related sectors
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is offering grants to small agriculture-related businesses in sectors that have suffered economically due to the coronavirus pandemic, but have been left out of earlier relief programs.
The WSDA Relief and Recovery grants, funded through a partnership with the state Department of Commerce, are intended to assist small businesses in four agriculture sectors, which include:
- Shellfish growers
- Farmers market organizations
- Agritourism farms
- Small breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries that depend on tap and tasting room sales
The application period for the WSDA grants will be open for two weeks, beginning as soon as Friday, April 9. Visit agr.wa.gov/grants to learn more.
Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program launches this week
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. The application portal is scheduled to open Thursday, April 8.
Eligible entities include:
- Live venue operators or promoters
- Theatrical producers
- Live performing arts organization operators
- Relevant museum operators, zoos and aquariums who meet specific criteria
- Motion picture theater operators
- Talent representatives
More information about eligibility and the application process are available here.
What you should know about…
COVID-19 vaccine distribution update
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to make progress with their COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration efforts.
As of March 29, more than 3,325,998 doses of vaccine have been given across the state, which is 83% of the 4,006,330 doses that have been delivered to Washington state providers and long-term care programs. Washington is currently averaging 55,894 vaccine doses given each day. This information can be found on the DOH data dashboard under the vaccines tab, which is updated three times per week.
Inslee announces vaccine eligibility expansion to all adults April 15
Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced that effective April 15, all Washingtonians age 16 and up will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Over the past four months since Washington began administering doses of the vaccination, the state has followed a tiered eligibility system, beginning with those most at risk of hospitalization and death.
The governor and the state Department of Health (DOH) have also prioritized equity issues in each phase to ensure vaccine access to populations disproportionately affected by the virus, including communities of color and low-income communities.
The expansion of eligibility comes, in part, in response to a recent uptick in COVID cases in the state.
Find more information on the COVID-19 vaccine here.
Use the Vaccine Locator tool to register for a vaccination appointment here.
For DOH’s COVID-19 Information Hotline, dial 1.800.525.0127, then press #. Language assistance is available.
What you should know about…
Resources for small businesses
Washington Requirements and Resources Webinars
“Start a Business in Washington,” is a free, one hour webinar which includes information about business registration and licensing, other regulatory requirements, and resources for further assistance. The webinar is scheduled for April 14 at 2 p.m. Click here for more information and to register online or call 800-917-0043.
Additionally, the free, 90-minute “COVID-19 Impact Webinar” includes the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Innovation and Assistance and the state departments’ of Employment Security, Labor and Industries, and Revenue. These partners provide an overview of resources, updates, emergency rule changes, and other impacts affecting small businesses to create a new successful path forward. Subject matter experts are available online answering questions throughout the webinar. The webinar is scheduled for April 22 at 2 p.m. Click here for more information and to register online or call 800-917-0043 and the Spanish webinar is at 9:00 a.m. Click here for more information and to register online or call 360-515-6101.
- Businesses with lost revenue as a result of closure.
- Businesses with added expenses to maintain safe operations.
- Equitable distribution of grant funds across the state and to businesses owned and operated by historically disadvantaged individuals.
PPP loan borrowers including schedule C filers have until March 31st to submit 1st Draw or 2nd Draw PPP applications unless funds run out or congress extends the deadline.
Contact your local business lender. Visit smallbizhelpwa for additional info. Or call the new PPP Assistance Line 833.562.1078