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Some help for Seattle area small businesses

Small businesses in Seattle neighborhoods heavily impacted by the pandemic and protests are now eligible for a little bit of extra help.

GSBA, an organization that supports LGBTQ businesses, is teaming up with Comcast to distribute $2,500 grants to small businesseslocated in Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District neighborhoods of Seattle. The money will be enough to fund small improvements or repairs.

“Clearly, it's not going to pay your rent and it's not going to pay rent or take care of your payroll. But, there are a lot of other things that might have been damaged,” said Louise Chernin, GSBA’s president and CEO. “Maybe you need a window replaced. Are you taking off your plywood? Maybe you need to bring a cleaning service in to clean up your place. Maybe you need to print new menus; a digital version?”

Priority for the grants is being given to businesses owned by people who identify as LGBTQ, women, Black, Indigenous and people of color. GSBA hopes to award 20 singular grants. The grants also come with free marketing help.

GSBA has heard from many small businesses who were not able to get federal funding or didn’t qualify for federal money because they had to lay off people.  And even though many businesses in and around the Capitol Hill Organized Protest Zone supported people demonstrating, their livelihoods suffered.

“Those businesses around Cal Anderson Park and the East Precinct were very heavily impacted by the demonstrations," Chernin said. "First they were greatly damaged by the police response with incendiary devices. Many of those businesses got gas that went inside to their businesses and they had to be cleaned up. There was a huge amount of broken glass and graffiti. So that was on top of COVID-19.”

When you start losing your small businesses, Chernin says, you lose the culture of that neighborhood.

In a survey asking businesses in Capitol Hill how they are faring, a majority of respondents said they did not feel well supported by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan or by the Seattle City Council.

GSBA hopes to raise at least $100,000 so it can continue to award small grants in other parts of Seattle and Washington state.


Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.