Nearly 1,500 businesses across the state still struggling with pandemic recovery receive grants to cover losses
OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce has distributed $79 million in grants to 1,493 hospitality sector businesses impacted by the pandemic. Authorized by the Washington Legislature in 2022 (ESSB 5693), funding provided through the Washington Hospitality Grant program is assisting businesses across the state with much needed relief right in time for the summer season.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has seen dramatic impacts to businesses across many sectors, the hospitality industry was hit particularly hard with continued operational challenges making it difficult for many restaurants, hotels and small hospitality businesses to fully recover. Commerce provided every eligible business that applied with a grant.. View a map of grants awarded.
“Many small businesses are family owned, providing a key pathway to building generational wealth,” said Commerce Director Mike Fong. “Today, even as pressure from the direct financial impact of the pandemic is easing, small business owners are faced with ongoing obstacles as they adapt to new business models and uncertainties around workforce, supply chain disruptions, and other challenging economic conditions.”
Fong spoke to the range of resources Commerce has to offer and continues to advocate for: “Above and beyond this relief funding, our team works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to provide a spectrum of services to support every stage of business, from planning and startup resources to export assistance and equitable access to working capital to grow.”
The grant came at the perfect time for organizations like Midtown Public House, a family style pub in Port Angeles, said Ket Voang, operator of the establishment. “We were contemplating the idea of closing our doors. The grant is giving us some breathing room and a fighting chance to continue serving our community and visitors alike.”
Businesses in 37 counties received funding, including many in economically distressed counties around the state. Despite pandemic emergency orders coming to an end, “Events, and games have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels here in the Yakima Valley,” said Maninder Kaur, owner/operator of My Place Hotel-Yakima. “The funds are really needed. It keeps our heads above the water. Though we are not swimming just yet, we are thankful to be able to utilize the funds to cover payroll and other operating expenses.”
“Thousands of Hospitality Businesses in Washington were left with huge debt and no relief after COVID. We are very grateful to the 2022 legislature for stepping up and providing $100 million in much needed small business support. Our industry has several years to go yet before we see the light at the end of the tunnel. While these grants won’t make our industry whole, they will definitely help main streets recover and keep doors open.”
“As small businesses face day-to-day challenges and continue to navigate the lasting impacts of the pandemic, support like the Washington Hospitality Grant program is critical for our recovering hospitality sector in Seattle and across the state,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “From the Chinatown International District and downtown to neighborhoods across the city, we know an equitable recovery requires thriving small businesses who are the backbone of our local economy, integral to our communities, and vital in generating wealth for families. We must be intentional to ensure businesses of all sizes have the resources and support they need to stabilize, grow, and continue to provide the goods and services we all love and cherish. I look forward to continued partnership with the state and with small businesses to advance these shared goals.”
In addition, 31 lodging establishments impacted by the pandemic eviction moratorium are seeing some relief with reimbursements for unpaid room charges, damages and legal fees. View a map of eviction relief grants.
To date, Commerce has distributed over $500 million in emergency relief grants to support the economic recovery stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. More information on past funding rounds can be found at https://commercegrants.com/covid-19-resources/small-business-grants-report/.
Director Fong is visiting small businesses throughout the state this summer to discuss the impact of the pandemic, current challenges and business needs moving forward.