Mayor Durkan and newly appointed OED Director Bobby Lee at the Only in Seattle Awards
By Joe Mirabella
“Seattle’s small businesses are the number one employer in Seattle,” said Karl Stickel, Interim Director of the Office of Economic Development. “Seattle’s Office of Economic Development focuses on helping small, locally-owned businesses, and the Only in Seattle initiative is one of our most important tools in this work. Grants support neighborhood business districts, who in turn foster an environment where small businesses can thrive.”
With this funding, Seattle’s neighborhood business districts will invest in the programs, services and projects that best address their needs, such as:
Providing training and support to local businesses
Helping businesses collaborate on events to bring in customers
Making the district clean and safe
Bringing public spaces to life with activities and art
Strengthening the organizations to sustain neighborhood improvement efforts, including the creation of a Business Improvement Area (BIA) or exploration to form one
The local business communities in 17 neighborhoods are working on comprehensive, multi-year strategies in which the City is investing $1,300,000 in 2019:
MLK/On Board Othello – $140,000
Chinatown/ID – $220,000
Rainier Beach – $110,000
Central Area – $215,000
Hillman City/Columbia City – $50,000
North Aurora – $40,000
Lake City – $123,000
Beacon Hill – $50,000
Baker – $48,000
South Park – $50,000
Pioneer Square – $18,000
First Hill – $65,000
Greenwood/Phinney – $40,000
Crownhill – $10,000
Capitol Hill – $90,000
Belltown – $10,000
Georgetown – $50,000
The grants will support small businesses in various ways. For example:
MLK/On Board Othello – The MLK Business Association plans to expand the increasingly popular Plate of Nations program, which brings people from across Seattle to explore the neighborhood’s international cuisine. Businesses learn techniques to welcome new customers and prepare for the event.
Chinatown/ID – Businesses are receiving one-on-one support when faced with pressures to move their business. Consultants help businesses evaluate their options and find and design new space in the district. The neighborhood is also working with developers of new projects to keep local businesses or bring in new ones that can thrive in and complement the neighborhood’s culture.
Central Area – The Central Area Collaborative and Central Area Chamber will continue their work to support black-owned business in the neighborhood that are especially at risk of displacement. Thanks in part to investments by the Only in Seattle program, the Liberty Bank property is being redeveloped to be a hub for black-owned small businesses.
The Only in Seattle program launched in 2011 and has awarded $12.6 million.