Growing Your Business
Whether you are a startup, second-stage, family or legacy business, there are state and local options available for business loans, grants and business programs available to keep your business growing. Regional cluster grants, accelerator programs and other grants offered through the Washington State Department of Commerce may also be an option when available.
Washington State Department of Commerce
New Hospitality & Lodging Industry Grant Program Opens March 14
The Washington State Department of Commerce has announced a new grant opportunity for businesses in the hospitality and lodging industry that suffered business losses due to the COVID pandemic. The application portal opened March 14 at wahospitalitygrants.com. Grants must be submitted by 5 pm on April 6. For questions, email WA Hospitality Grants.
The grants are open only to:
- Restaurants; food stands, trucks and carts
- Caterers, bars, saloons, lounges, and taverns
- Snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars
- Licensed alcohol producers where the public may taste, sample or purchase products
- Hotels and motels (except casinos), and inns and bed and breakfast establishments that have a least five private lodging rooms or onsite sales of food and beverage that account for at least 25% of gross receipts or sales
- Bakeries, brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms, breweries, microbreweries, wineries and distilleries are also eligible to apply if onsite sales to the public comprise at least 25% of gross receipts or sales.
- Bowling alleys and convention and visitors bureaus will also be considered for a grant, depending on the availability of funds.
The Department of Commerce provides a general listing of open grants, loans and RFPs for businesses to access easily from this site. The lists are updated so check back often for new opportunities.
Also check the Small Business Flex Fund, which is a simple, low-interest loan. The Flex Fund offers flexible working capital in form of low-interest loans up to $150,000. Low-interest rates with 60-to-72-month payment terms. No fees and interest-only payment for the first year. Funds can be used for payroll, utilities, rent, marketing and advertising, supplies, building improvements or repairs or other qualifying business expenses. Visit the page for the qualifications.
Washington Economic Development Authority (WEDFA)
The Washington Economic Development Finance Authority (WEDFA) takes advantage of a special kind of federal income tax incentive, which allows it to pass on some of the benefits of state governmental financing to private enterprises and (in some cases) local governments. If your organization falls within any of the following categories, you should consider WEDFA as a possible financing source for your organization's capital:
- Production of alternate energy
- Water or sewage treatment
- 501(c)(3) non-profit
This Washington State Department of Commerce website offers a host of no-cost resources for small businesses. Small businesses are the primary driver of communities throughout Washington state. Finding the right resources to launch, grow and optimize your businesses can be challenging. This site offers various academies for starting, growing and rebuilding a business along with an academy for selling online. These are self-paced learning tools for busy business owners.
There is also a multitude of low or no-cost programs for business owners including a ScaleUp program to improve your overall business acumen, the Retirement Marketplace offers a simple way to provide a retirement plan as an employee benefit (great for recruitment and retention), and the Thrive! program for high-growth, second-stage companies that want to accelerate their growth even further.
Exporting Assistance for Washington Business
Washington State is one of the country's most successful exporting states. The Department of Commerce offers businesses assistance for exporting contacts, advocacy, business matchmaking, risk mitigation and market research. The Export team at Commerce can also assist with consulting and travel. Qualifying companies who are new to exports or entering new markets can get up to $100,000 to offset expenses. Funded in part by the SBA's State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), the vouchers can be used to defray trade show or trade mission fees, airfare, interpreter and translation services, export training programs and more. Find more information about exporting assistance.