[Editor’s note: the Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund has disbursed over $20 million in cash grants and free rent to more than 900 small businesses.]
As Amazon put down roots and grew in Seattle’s South Lake Union and Regrade neighborhoods over the past decade, we’ve been fortunate to have hundreds of restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, retailers, and other small businesses join us. These small shops and their passionate employees are a meaningful part of what gives our neighborhoods the energy and vibrancy we all love.
These businesses support thousands of local jobs that are a critical part of the Seattle and Puget Sound economy. They’re our friends and neighbors, and we believe it’s important to try to help them confront the economic challenges that are likely to come from the COVID-19 outbreak. Last week, we shared that Amazon was providing free rent for the month of March to retail tenants in Amazon-owned buildings. (Editor’s note: Free rent for small business tenants has now been extended.) We also shared that we are continuing to pay, and where possible redeploy, hourly staff who work for the service providers that support our offices in Seattle and Bellevue—from food service workers, to security guards to janitorial staff—during the time we’ve recommended our employees work from home.”
Today, we’re creating a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to provide cash grants to local small businesses that need assistance during this difficult time. The fund is intended for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue, physical presence within a few blocks of our Regrade, South Lake Union, and Bellevue office buildings, that are open to the general public, and that are reliant on foot traffic for customers. Among the information that will be requested as part of the grant process will be how much revenue each applicant anticipates it'll lose in March with some associated back-up information.
Small businesses within the South Lake Union and Regrade neighborhoods as well as the ones adjacent to the buildings we occupy in Bellevue will be eligible to apply for grants so they can continue to retain and pay their employees, stay current on rent, and cover other fixed costs related to their operations. We will be working with a third-party to review grant applications and distribute funds. The plan is for all applications to be reviewed in a timely manner by an external third-party. For those small businesses qualifying for a grant, we will disburse funds as quickly as possible. Learn more about the first round of grants we issued.
As we all adapt to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, we know that we have an important role to play in keeping our employees and residents safe and healthy, and in supporting the local businesses that are our neighbors. This is a difficult time in our city, and we will continue to try to work with our community to get through it together.