Dear friends and neighbors,
It’s been a rocky road for our local businesses and entertainment venues over the past two and a half years. While many were able to persevere and navigate closures, health restrictions, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, others have not been as fortunate. Last spring the state Legislature approved hundreds of millions of dollars of one-time relief to make sure that small businesses and cultural organizations that were shuttered due to covid were able to revive and thrive in an uncertain economy.
While distribution of these funds has been ongoing, there is one final round of grants available in the next couple of weeks, and I wanted to make sure that folks here were ready to take advantage of the opportunity to get the support they deserve.
Grants available now
As the lead budget writer in the Senate, I work regularly with my colleagues to make sure our Main Street businesses received the support they need to grow. More than $70 million in Working Washington Grants are available right now with $45 million of that targeted toward the arts, heritage, and science sectors, including live entertainment venues. The remainder is for most other hard-hit sectors, including hospitality, fitness and personal services. The deadline to apply is Friday, Sept. 9.
Additionally, there is a targeted pool of one-time emergency relief grants for businesses and non-profits impacted by the closure of the convention industry – the Convention Center Grant program administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce. You can apply now and access program details/eligibility criteria, FAQs and application previews at https://commercegrants.com.
Other small business resources
From online creative academies for entrepreneurs to specialized help for businesses that may be growing too quickly, there are several resources available from the state. Check out this run down of resources compiled by the Washington State Women’s Commission (even if you aren’t a women-owned business, they’ve done a great job compiling information!)
I was proud to receive the Silverdale Chamber’s “Hospitality Hero” award earlier this summer. Our small businesses are the backbone of our communities and I will continue work hard on their behalf.
During the 2022 legislative session, I was pleased to vote for two significant tax cuts that should help steady our smallest businesses over the coming years. Senate Bill 5980 will provide permanent tax relief to an estimated 276,000 small business. Beginning in January, the legislation will completely exempt businesses with up to $125,000 in gross receipts from the state’s Business & Occupations Tax (B&O) and expand the Small Business Tax Credit to those enterprises earning nearly $250,000 annually. For some business owners, this change will put $1,600 back in their pocket starting next year.
I also co-sponsored Senate Bill 5873, which cuts the social tax increases for unemployment insurance scheduled for 2022 and 2023. In total, the UI tax relief is estimated to save small businesses $265 million over the next year and a half.
More movies made in WA
One of the more exciting investments approved by the Legislature this year increases tax incentives to encourage more film and television production here in Washington. In addition to the tax credits, funding will be used for supporting the growth and development of the state film industry and developing resources to facilitate filming in rural communities. We have so much beauty here in our corner of the world and I hope we can share it with more people while supporting economic development across the state.
Thanks for taking the time to read this newsletter and please share with people who may be interested in the funding opportunities. As always, feel free to contact me at Christine.Rolfes@leg.wa.gov.