GSBA Urges New Small Business Supports with New Restrictions

by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
| Nov 20, 2020
This letter was sent to Washington State and City of Seattle leaders on November 20, 2020.

As we enter the next four weeks of restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, we ask that our public officials take a strong stand to support our small businesses and community nonprofits. Representing 1,300 members across the state, GSBA - Washington's LGBTQ chamber - is very concerned about the survival of our members, especially during what is normally the most important commercial season for many small businesses. We understand and agree that the pandemic must be brought under control before we can work on an economic recovery.

With the latest round of restrictions, both the City of Seattle and Washington State have announced renewed efforts to support our small businesses. With that in mind, GSBA urges our governments to:

  • make available as many direct cash grants as possible, rather than loans
  • ensure that funds are directed to those most impacted by the new restrictions, including food and beverage establishments, small retail, and arts organizations.
  • ensure that eligibility criteria are broad enough to incorporate low-margin high-employment businesses like restaurants (is there room to expand beyond the current 25 FTE limit?)
  • clarify that if nonprofits are included in grant or loan opportunities, that the applications reflect that circumstance
  • make the application for and disbursement of funds as simple as possible for struggling establishments
  • expand and expedite permitting to assist small businesses adjust quickly to the evolving situation, given the holiday season and its weather
  • give any business financial relief that is possible, specifically waiving or eliminating any taxes or fees (rather than delaying them)

We understand that state law constrains our ability to provide enough direct small business assistance in the necessary ways. We still urge you to do all that you can to provide as much assistance as you possibly can.

Additionally, we have been asked if the City can clarify some of the following points:

  • What is the capacity of OED to process additional Small Business Stabilization Fund requests? Is the round going to be increased from where it was two weeks ago, or are we operating under the same numbers of grants as prior to this lockdown?
  • Will any City supports be retroactive for those businesses who have already had to purchase required goods?
  • What taxes or fees does the City believe could be feasibly waived to help provide relief?
  • Clarification on the City's decision that personal guarantees on business leases are unenforceable -- are they retroactively enforceable? A business could be covered right now under the rule, but what happens if/when the order expires? Could a landlord come back and then try to enforce a personal guarantee after the pandemic is over?