OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee is not ready to loosen any restrictions on businesses deemed “non-essential,” those forced to shut down under his stay home order, but said the state has new ways to help those business owners and their employees.
Tuesday afternoon Inslee announced new measures to help businesses, including:
- Emergency $5 million grant program to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the stay home order. Businesses with fewer than 10 employees may qualify for $10,000.
- A business resiliency program, that is partnering with multiple groups throughout the state to help make sure there is fair access to grants and support.
- Help businesses access federal assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
"We know we have a long economic recovery ahead of us," he said. "We are going to roll out every tool at our disposal."
The resiliency program is partnering with local chambers of commerce and business groups that can provide extra support for minority-owned businesses, including translation services.
Toshiko Hasegawa, Executive Director for the Commission of Asian Pacific American Affairs, said the extra help for Asian-Pacific Islander business owners will be appreciated.
“We know that COVID-related losses hit A-P (Asian Pacific) businesses earlier, even prior to the statewide closures, due to unfair racial stigmas and the prejudicial perceptions that Asian businesses might be unclean or unsanitary," Hasegawa said.
Inslee also said a group of nonprofits launched a new fund to help the state's food banks. He said that 1.6 million Washingtonians will seek help from food banks, doubling demand from past years.
So far, the state has disbursed $120 million of the $200 million emergency coronavirus response spending that the state legislature approved earlier this year. Inslee said that lawmakers will “probably” be called back to Olympia if more money is needed before next January, when the next legislative session starts.