Eastside Cities Launch Collaborative COVID-19 Business Response
Published on April 20, 2020
Communications Program Manager
(re)STARTUP425 offers one-on-one technical assistance and resources to Eastside small business owners, nonprofits, sole-proprietors, and gig workers in partnership with Business Impact NW
KIRKLAND, Wash. – The cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond, and Renton today launched (re)STARTUP425, a collaborative effort to connect Eastside small business owners, nonprofit leaders, and sole proprietors with available business support resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through its website, (re)STARTUP425 will provide one-on-one technical consultations on business financial assistance programs, a calendar of relevant webinars and other resources, and a restaurant map that identifies Eastside restaurants and cafés open for carry out.
“We know that our small business community faces immense challenges due to COVID-19,” said Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold. “This is especially true for businesses that have historically faced barriers to full economic inclusion, such as businesses owned by people of color, women, and immigrants. I’m proud that we are moving quickly in collaboration with our regional partners to provide these businesses with the support they need to navigate the landscape of relief programs available to them.”
The cities have contracted with Business Impact NW to staff (re)STARTUP425’s Business Response Team. This team will provide free, one-on-one, technical consultations to:
• help businesses understand resources available to them;
• prepare businesses to qualify for and access eligible grants and loans; and
• help businesses complete grant and loan applications.
Business assistance programs can be confusing and difficult to navigate, particularly for those businesses without an existing relationship with a commercial bank or similar financial services. The Business Response Team aims to fill that need by advising business owners to help them understand and apply for city, state, federal, and private economic relief programs related to COVID-19. Recognizing that business owners may experience language barriers in the existing processes, the Business Response Team is available to assist in multiple languages through a phone interpretation service. The services provided by the Business Response Team will be free to Eastside businesses.
Business owners who are not certain what relief programs they are eligible for, where they need to apply, and what documentation they may need for each program are able to submit their questions online to be answered by dedicated Business Response Team members. Once business owners understand what programs will best support their survival and recovery, a Business Response Team member can assist in gathering required documents, filling out applications, and submitting forms.
"We are excited to partner with (re)STARTUP425 to offer additional resources and assistance to Eastside businesses,” said Domonique Juleon, Chief Program Officer of Business Impact NW. “As a community development financial institution, and a nonprofit, we are available to help business owners understand the current status of many of the relief programs – whether those programs are open, funded, closed, or may reopen. We understand that the availability of current financial assistance programs is dynamic, and our program will adjust to those changing conditions as needed.”
The Business Response Team program is geared toward small businesses and nonprofits of all industries and verticals, including arts and cultural nonprofits, microbusinesses (like hairdressers, nail salons, and home cleaning services), and contractors within the five cities.
“Many of the available federal and state resources for small businesses are being granted on a first come first serve basis," said Councilmember Kelli Curtis. "Those types of processes don’t work well for businesses not connected to the financial system through relationships with financial professionals. The Startup425 cities are stepping up to meet that need by offering critical guidance to those small businesses that don’t have other options.”
The (re)STARTUP425 effort refocuses the cities’ Startup425 partnership, which began in 2016 and supports small businesses and entrepreneurs, on helping small businesses and nonprofits navigate the dynamic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The (re)STARTUP425 program is accessible at re.startup425.org.