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Applications open for WA’s largest round of business grants yet

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The Washington State Department of Commerce has announced the details of round four of the Working Washington Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. The first day to apply was March 29 and applications close 12 days later.

In this round, $240 million in grants will be available to small businesses in Washington with a priority for those impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. The funding comes from the $2.2 billion COVID-19 relief bill, House Bill 1368 signed into law Feb. 19, 2021, and provides grants of up to $25,000.

The department began accepting applications on March 29 through an online portal until 5 p.m., PDT on April 9, 2021. The funds are required by the relief bill to be distributed before June 30, 2021, and part of the reason for the short application window is to ensure that businesses receive the grants before the June 30 deadline, according to the Washington State Department of Commerce.

Who are they for?

The program offers grant relief funds to small, for-profit businesses impacted by COVID-19 and related health and safety measures. While most businesses were impacted in some way, there are specific aspects that the department will be prioritizing. Businesses required to close, businesses with lost revenue as a result of closure, and businesses that incurred added expenses to maintain safe operations are listed as priorities for funding. The department will also be prioritizing equitable distribution of grant funds across the state and to businesses owned and operated by historically disadvantaged individuals.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible, applicants must be for-profit Washington state businesses operating out of a brick-and-mortar location located in Washington. Applicants are required to be in business before Jan. 1, 2020, and must have filed a 2019 tax return. At least 51% of revenue must be generated in Washington state, and reported gross annual revenue must have been between $25,000 and $5 million in 2019. Finally, to be eligible, businesses must have experienced a decrease in revenue and/or incurred additional costs between 2019 and 2020 because of COVID-19 public health and safety measures.

Some businesses may meet the requirements above, but are on the list of ineligible businesses that the department provides. Card rooms and businesses with a gambling component will be considered for the grants if the business meets the other requirements.

Ineligible businesses include nonprofits, property management or real estate companies, operators of a vacation or short-term rental unit, businesses that are actively engaged in current or pending lawsuits, and businesses that have permanently closed or intend to permanently close in 2021. In contrast to other recent relief programs, there are no employment requirements for this grant and sole proprietors without an Employer Identification Number are eligible. Businesses with multiple locations can apply once per location.

How to apply

To apply, visit commercegrants.com and access the department’s portal between March 29 and April 9 where you can submit an application. The department requires the following to apply:

  • A copy of filed 2019 federal tax return.
  • 2020 federal tax return, if filed. If 2020 documents are not available, the business owner must attest and estimate the amount of annual gross revenues.
  • Washington State Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number (tribal member-owned businesses without a UBI may provide alternative business validation).
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), if applicable.
  • Valid government-issued photo ID.
  • Completed W-9 form (digital copy accepted).

We will continue to provide guidance for members who have questions about the application process. Business owners with questions can contact their Territory Manager or visit the Washington Hospitality Association Coronavirus Resource Guide for up-to-date information.