Seattle small businesses and neighborhoods to receive $ 23 million in aid as part of City Hall recovery plan

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durcan has suggested that Seattle’s small businesses and local business communities can get $ 23 million in additional recovery assistance.

Seattle rescue plan announced last week and subject to City Council approval, will use federal pandemic funds to expand its previously earmarked $ 10 million to help small businesses, with an increased focus on communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“We are really going to continue to prioritize direct financial assistance to those people who need it most and have not yet had a chance to start recovering,” Durcan said during a press conference in Colombia on Wednesday.

Most of the funding coming from the $ 1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will go to selected small businesses, organizations and areas affected by COVID-19. according to the financial summary of the city budget

The funds for small businesses will be used for direct grants, technical assistance and so-called “soft spending” such as utilities and tenant improvements, according to the office’s resume and city officials.

The area’s restoration funds will be used to support special events, cleaning and things like temporary outdoor seating, vendor markets, and art and music installations.

The proposal highlights relief for communities of color, which are “particularly hard hit by both the health and economic impacts of COVID,” Durcan said.

The proposal also targets urban arts and cultural organizations, which typically account for nearly a fifth of the city’s economic activity, but suffered huge losses during the pandemic, city officials said.

Two-thirds of the city’s artists have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic, according to Kalandra Childers, the city’s acting director of arts and culture, who also spoke at the event.

According to Childers, nearly three-quarters of cultural organizations have had to lay off their employees, and about the same amount lacks the money to survive the next 12 months, and one in four does not have enough money to survive the next two to three months.

“So the urgency is now,” Childers added. “We need to invest in this sector so we can get them back.”

Some details remain unsettled. City officials do not yet know the size of the new proposal for small business grants; previous grants for small businesses were $ 10,000.

Anthony Derrick, a spokesman for Durcan, said city officials plan to submit the proposal to the city council by Friday, with a vote possibly taking place on June 15.

But Council support for the proposal is unclear. Derrick said Council members Teresa Mosqueda and M. Lorena Gonzalez are official sponsors. But Council member Lisa Herbold, who was originally supposed to join Durcan at Wednesday’s event, did not attend, Derrick said.

The Herbold office did not respond to a request for comment.

City Hall “worked with the city council on the distribution plan [federal pandemic] funding, and I understand the plan has broad board support, ”Derrick said.

Small businesses generally welcomed the city’s efforts to accelerate recovery, but also called on the city to address other issues such as homelessness and security.

“This funding will help” small businesses, “said John Scholes, president and CEO of the Seattle Business Center Association. “But our small business owners and neighborhood business districts are also struggling to cope with a deepening homelessness crisis. Our city must receive [homeless] people inside and prioritize federal funding accordingly if we’re really going to get well. ”

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