Newly Announced $15 Million Federal Grant Supports Safe Start Projects and Partnerships Aimed at Helping Washington Businesses

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A $15 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, one of the largest such grants in the nation, will support a number of initiatives ultimately aimed at helping Washington small businesses and strengthening core industry clusters.

In support of the state’s Safe Start efforts, the Washington State Department of Commerce spearheaded a unique collaboration among public, private and philanthropic organizations to help keep small businesses open, protect and create jobs, while also looking ahead to strengthen key sectors in the future.

The projects recently received a $15 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, one of the largest such grants in the nation.

The grant funds will support a number of initiatives ultimately aimed at helping Washington small businesses and strengthening core industry clusters. Some of the projects are new, but several build off existing efforts.

Restart projects include technical assistance for businesses and entrepreneurs in underrepresented and underserved communities as well as a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 modeling project that will help predict and prevent outbreaks so that essential, high-risk businesses such as fisheries, food processors and meat packers can reopen and stay open safely.

Rebuild projects provide businesses an array of training and coaching services to help them retool or rethink their operations.

Commerce partnered with Washington State University’s Small Business Development Center, the non-profit collaborative Restart Partners, the Association of Washington Business, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension partner Impact Washington, the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the state’s public-private maritime industry cluster organization Washington Maritime Blue, the non-profit community development financial institution National Development Council (NDC), and the Thurston Economic Development Council.

Under the grant, Commerce and its partners will develop and provide a broad range of support to help small businesses address key areas of need, such as prevention of COVID infection and transmission, connections to financial resources for immediate and future resiliency, and technical assistance to help manufacturers adapt for safe yet efficient operations.

Some programs are already underway while others are still being developed. Current programs include:

Safe Start

On Oct. 8, 2020, the Governor announced that a $15 million federal EDA grant has been awarded to support several Safe Start projects that will allow Commerce and a network of community partners to provide technical support and assistance to small businesses. Those projects are under development and information will be available here as they become operational. You can read more about the projects and partners here.

Community Small Business Resiliency Grant Program – Apply

$5 million in federal CARES Act funds has been allocated to this grant program. Successful grant applicants will be eligible for up to $10,000. A business owner with more than one business may apply, but each business application requires a unique state UBI number or Tribal Letter/Certification. Grant awards cannot be used to reimburse personal expenses (i.e., home mortgage, personal utilities), pay state or federal taxes or lobbying expenses/activities. More information on the program and eligibility. | Application

Working Washington Small Business Grants: Round 2

Commerce is funding an additional $10 million in small business grants. In contrast to Round 1, these grants will be administered and managed by our local associate economic development organizations, not Commerce. For more information and to apply, contact the organization designated for your county using the provided links.

Small Business Resiliency Assistance

The effects of COVID-19 have negatively affected Washington’s small businesses across the state. Those in marginalized communities have been hit especially hard. We are investing in and partnering with organizations that provide linguistically and culturally appropriate assistance to these business owners.

Federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance

This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties that does not have to be repaid. In the latest package, Congress appropriated an additional $10 billion for this program. This complements the traditional SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program which has been in place for the entire nation, all territories and Washington, D.C. since mid-March. Approval notification is estimated at approximately three days.

And more. For information about the various programs supporting small businesses, visit the Commerce webpage at

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