The Ready for Business Fund – a relief program launched by GSBA, Washington State’s LGBTQ & Allied Chamber of Commerce, and Comcast Washington, will begin distributing $2,500 cash grants to more than 60 small businesses in the metro Seattle area that are owned by LGBTQ people, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and women. The fund was established on Aug. 3 with $50,000 from Comcast Washington and GSBA as the fund administrator.
Within one month, GSBA received 500 applications for the fund. In the same period more than $200,000 was raised to support the Ready for Business Fund. Support included a second $50,000 contribution from Comcast, a $25,000 donation from T-Mobile, and funding from AT&T, BECU, Grace Church Seattle, Harborstone Credit Union, Microsoft, Puget Sound Energy, Sanctuary Seattle Church, Seattle Storm, US Bank, Verity Credit Union, and several generous community members. These funds will now support groups of business owners who run local restaurants, bookstores, bistros, shops and stores, which are an important part of the social fabric in our community.
“Unprecedented challenges are facing our small businesses. Aid such as the PPP and EIDL loans offered by the federal government didn’t work for many small businesses. Since early this spring, I’ve spoken with small business owners who’ve found the loans complicated, were turned down by banks, or feared they wouldn’t be able to repay the loans,” said Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO. “That’s why GSBA and Comcast Washington moved fast to address this urgent need. We are humbled, that in this time of such great hardship, the community stepped up and came together to support one another.”
Chernin serves on the City of Seattle COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Task Force, established by Mayor Jenny Durkan to address COVID-19 economic impact on the small business community, alongside business chamber leaders and small business owners from across the city.
The Seattle metro area has witnessed the shuttering and closure of local-owned small businesses being devastated by COVID-19 and the economic downturn. The risk to the small business community is underscored by feedback from the business owners who’ve applied for grants from the Ready for Business Fund. They report a devastating impact, including up to 85 percent loss of annual revenue, being forced to lay-off employees, and significant loss of business due to proximity to demonstrations in Seattle.
Businesses surveyed about the grants and funding said the funding will be used on necessities such as paying for rent, bills, payroll, and groceries. Of the businesses who applied, 67 percent identify as women-owned businesses, nearly a quarter identify as LGBTQ-owned businesses, and 36 percent as BIPOC-owned businesses.
“Small businesses need us. And if the current challenging times have taught us anything, it’s how interconnected and interdependent we all are to one another,” said Diem Ly, Community Impact Director, Comcast Washington. “When people ask why a big company like Comcast wants to help small businesses, I explain that it’s our social responsibility to offer help when our communities need us most. This is personal for us. We and our customers care about and patronize these same local small businesses, and we know if our local economies can thrive, we all benefit.”
GSBA assembled a selection committee consisting of diverse community and business leaders throughout the region, who are now combing through the hundreds of applications received. Grant applicants will be notified during the week of Sept. 21 about the status of their application, and awards will be delivered beginning the next week. Applicants not selected during the first round will remain in the pool and be considered for the next round of funding.
Applications for Ready for Business Fund grants were accepted through Sept. 4, 2020. More information is available at theGSBA.org/ready-for-business.
All grant recipients will receive wrap-around services from GSBA and Comcast Washington, including membership, advertising, and consulting. Additionally, Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, will award the first 20 grant recipients with the following benefits:
- Marketing Support: includes television commercials from Effectv that align the grant recipient’s brand with programming from top cable networks, as well as online advertisements from Comcast Business to potential customers.
- Expert Consultation: Access to virtual learning assets and business resources, as well as consultation and educational support around technology needs.
Established in 1981, GSBA is Washington State’s LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce and is the largest of its kind in North America. The chamber represents over 1,400 small business, corporate, and nonprofit members who share the values of promoting diversity, equity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace. GSBA proudly serves as a connector across the region, bringing communities together through business while advocating for civil rights and small business. GSBA also promotes LGBTQ tourism through Travel Out Seattle, advocates for small businesses in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood through the Capitol Hill Business Alliance (CHBA) and invests in the next generation of LGBTQ and allied leaders through the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky. Comcast Cable is one of the United States’ largest video, high-speed Internet, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and provides these services to businesses. It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand. NBCUniversal is global and operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts. Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed Internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.