Google’s 6th Street office building in Kirkland. Mitchell Atencio/staff photo

Google’s 6th Street office building in Kirkland. Mitchell Atencio/staff photo

Relief fund formed to support Kirkland small businesses, nonprofits

Google.org provided the $250,000 seed money for the fund, which is a partnership with the city, the chamber of commerce and Banner Bank.

The city of Kirkland, the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce and Banner Bank recently announced the creation of a Kirkland Small Business Relief Fund, a new program intended to provide immediate grants to qualifying small businesses and small nonprofits in Kirkland impacted by COVID-19.

The relief fund received initial seed funding of $250,000 from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, and is open to additional contributions.

According to a press release, the chamber will act as the fiscal agent for the fund and will manage all contributions. A committee comprised of members from the chamber and Banner Bank will review all applications and make all decisions regarding dispersal of grant funding. Eligibility criteria and application process are expected to be available in a matter of days.

“The Small Business Relief Fund is an extraordinary example of creative collaboration between the public and private sectors to bring immediate support to our Kirkland business community,” Mayor Penny Sweet said in the release. “I’m so grateful for the generous seed funding from Google and the incredible leadership of the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, Banner Bank, and economic development staff at the city. We’re all in this together, and this fund demonstrates that.”

The fund aims to provide immediate financial assistance to Kirkland’s hardest hit small businesses and small nonprofits in the form of unrestricted grants to support rent, employee salaries and operating costs as a stop-gap relief pending the release and distribution of anticipated federal and state aid, the release states. It is expected that the fund will disperse grants to applicants in successive funding rounds, as contributions allow.

“COVID-19 and social distancing measures from the state and county have created many challenges for our local businesses,” chamber CEO Samantha St. John said in the release. “Although we should all still be supporting our local businesses in any way we can while following required social distancing, I invite all those in our community that are able to contribute to this fund to support Kirkland businesses. These are challenging times, but we can get through them together.”

The fund will begin accepting applications from eligible Kirkland-based small businesses and small not-for-profits at 9 a.m. on April 1. The application period will close at 5 p.m. April 7. Applications will be accepted online only, and the application form can be found at kirklandchamber.org/relief.

The total number of grant recipients will be capped at 250, with minimum grant awards set at $1,000 and maximum grant award set at $5,000. There will also be an equal distribution of funds among qualifying recipients.

Businesses meeting the following criteria are eligible to apply: Brick-and-mortar commercial businesses or small not-for-profits serving customers and constituents in a premise that is open to the general public, current business license number with the city of Kirkland, demonstrated negative financial impact from COVID-19, 25 or fewer FTE (full time equivalent) employees and business is open, or intends to re-open after restrictions lift.

“COVID-19 is causing major disruptions to Kirkland and to communities around the world,” Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold said in a press release. “This Relief Fund is a local effort to support our local small businesses and not-for-profits during this challenging time. I encourage all organizations who meet the criteria to apply to get needed support.”

In addition to the immediate funding from the fund, the federal government recently passed a comprehensive package, the CARES Act, that is anticipated to support Kirkland businesses in the form of loans (forgivable in some instances), extended unemployment programs, and more, a press release states. City staff will continue to track and provide links to relevant programs at www.Kirklandwa.gov/BusinessSupportCOVID.

Additional resources for Kirkland businesses include the U.S. Small Business Administration, which is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to Washington small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19. Applicants may apply online and receive additional disaster assistance information at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

For more information, including details on contributing to the fund, visit kirklandchamber.org/relief.


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