Once upon a time, many months/a lifetime ago, Seattle had one of the highest concentrations of locally-owned small businesses in the country — over 100,000 of them here in town. That worked out to two and a half small businesses for every 100 residents! I’ve got a sinking feeling about what that number will look like when (if) we emerge from the pandemic, but at least a few of them might be saved by… of all sources… Comcast.
Yes, Comcast, which is neither locally-owned nor small, has pledged $50,000 to support local businesses with a new grant program in partnership with the Greater Seattle Business Association. If you’ve got a little company that needs support, you can apply for a grant of $2,500 — and GSBA is hoping this is just the start with fundraising now underway to double the available pool of money.
The application process is quick, about 15 minutes, which is a far cry from the hours you might spend trying to wade through paperwork for other forms of assistance. And yeah, $2,500 isn’t a HUGE amount for a business — that could just barely cover a few days of salary for employees, or a bit of the rent. But when I talk to folks who own tattoo parlors or comic book shops or gumball machines, I constantly hear that every little bit of cash counts right now.
Grants will prioritize BIPOC and minority-owned businesses, GSBA says, with a focus on Capitol Hill and the Central District for what they’re calling “the first round.” That suggests the program might expand if they’re able to keep the donations rolling in. Following Comcast’s seed funding of $50,000, a group of churches has joined in with a donation of an unspecified amount.
So, do you happen to have a bit of extra cash lying around? If you’ve got an interest and the means to help your local taqueria, bike store, or gay bar stay afloat, the Ready for Business Fund is accepting donations. You don’t even have to be the owner of a telecommunications conglomerate! Every little bit helps. And with the government failing to address the consequences of the pandemic, it seems like our best hope now is private governments — AKA corporations.