Supporting Seattle’s Economic Heart & Soul: Our Small Businesses
The devastation of COVID-19 on small businesses in Seattle has been heartbreaking. My plan for equitable recovery for our small businesses will be a top priority. Building on the experience and relationships I built chairing Governor Inslee’s COVID economic recovery task force, I will continue to work tirelessly with the small businesses community and lay out a responsive strategy for growth and recovery. We will bring together industry experts with constituents to propose programs and policies informed by the on-the-ground needs of our small business community, particularly BIPOC-owned small businesses left out of federal pandemic relief last year. The status quo simply just isn’t good enough. In collaboration with those most affected, my administration will propose solutions that reflect our diverse business community and will get Seattle’s economic heart and soul thriving once again. Here are the principles that will drive my economic recovery agenda:
- Prioritizing Equitable Recovery: The pandemic hit small businesses, especially BIPOC-owned firms, the worst. My administration will ensure these businesses receive all the support they need for recovery and growth. We can no longer afford years of division and stagnation in Seattle politics to hold back our recovery. I will build on the $50 million we secured at the state level for small business support to increase the Small Business Stabilization Fund, coordinate distribution of those resources with trusted community organizations, and encourage equitable recovery with community-driven solutions.
- Embracing Entrepreneurial Roots: Seattle has long been famous for its hardworking and innovative entrepreneurs. One of my first jobs was working in a neighborhood small business, the Wallingford Bakery, where I saw firsthand how positive customer engagement can unify a community. Despite recent setbacks, Seattle’s entrepreneurial drive is alive and well. By enacting policies that support working people like additional affordable housing construction and universal birth-to-5 childcare, we will support Seattle’s start-up ecosystem to ensure it continues to thrive and contributes to Seattle’s resilience.
- Tapping into Deep Expertise: My administration will bring together experts on small business to aid struggling firms in recovering quickly and support new small business owners with guidance on best practices on entrepreneurship. The challenges presented by the pandemic have resulted in significant innovation that small businesses can benefit from, and the City’s economic recovery agenda should be informed by everyone from first-time start-up entrepreneurs to veteran business leaders to ensure it reflects our diverse community and our policies achieve an equitable recovery and prosperity for all.
- Bringing Everyone to the Table: Preserving Seattle’s economic diversity is essential to a thriving, resilient economy where everyone has an opportunity to succeed. My administration will prioritize supporting the thriving refugee and immigrant community who are bulwarks for entrepreneurism in Seattle, but were disproportionately left out of federal pandemic relief. For example, we will work with the largest employers that drive demand for support businesses in South Lake Union and around the city to continue programs supporting those small businesses leasing space in office buildings whose workforces have still not fully returned to in-person work. We will collaborate with Seattle’s largest businesses to support small business grants and to be part of the solution to our shared challenges, including homelessness.
- Improving Access to Capital: Seattle’s entrepreneurs pour everything into their ventures, often using their savings and taking on personal loans to pursue their dreams. Many small businesses struggle to access grants and loans to grow their enterprises. Notoriously difficult barriers to entry, especially for Black and brown entrepreneurs, prevent many firms from reaching their potential. Jessyn will work with banks, venture capital firms, and start-up incubators to improve access to capital for all.
- Support Capacity Building: My administration will champion programs to help anyone who wants to work find jobs. We will support initiatives to create day jobs, support services, and gig work with equitable pay for all. For those who cannot work, my administration will build on the lessons learned from the pandemic to direct appropriate economic support that will stimulate demand for neighborhood small businesses. We will also support schools, non-profit organizations, unions, and businesses that offer vocational capacity building to support local businesses, prioritizing those that offer students of all ages the opportunity to earn while they learn.
- Creating a Safer, More Walkable Seattle: One of my administration’s key economic recovery proposals will be to support Seattle small businesses at the sidewalk level and ensure residents can enjoy safety and security in every neighborhood throughout the city. Our transportation investments will strive to make Seattle a more walkable city, which will not only help businesses thrive, but will also help the environment with less traffic, increase community cohesion, and make the city more attractive for visitors and tourists.