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Safe Start updates

 

Gov. Inslee yesterday announced a three-week extension of the state’s current restrictions which will now be in place until Jan. 4, 2021.

The three-week extension of statewide restrictions comes as the state’s healthcare system nears dangerous occupancy levels. With the effects of Thanksgiving on infection and hospital numbers still unknown, the extension will grant the state’s medical system much needed time to increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity before it’s overwhelmed.

An overview of the restrictions is available here. For all businesses and activities not addressed here, previous phase guidance still applies. 

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Business grants

 

Gov. Inslee announces another $50 million for Working Washington business grants; priority deadline is Friday

Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday also announced an additional $50 million for the Working Washington grants, bringing the total amount for the third round to $100 million.

These additional funds will double the number of small businesses the state is able to aid.

Priority will be given to applications received by 5 p.m. Dec. 11. Businesses are encouraged to start their application today, especially if they think they’ll need technical assistance.

The Washington Small Business Development Center (WSBDC) out of Washington State University, which partnered to assist Commerce in this effort, has more than two dozen people actively responding to thousands of emails and answering hundreds of calls since the application portal opened. Due to the high volume of calls and emails, it may take them more than one day to respond. Businesses who wait beyond today to request help may not receive a response prior to the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday.

If Commerce is able to fund all the eligible applicants who submit by that time, the department may be able to consider eligible applicants who submit after Dec. 11.

Since the application opened for the current round of Working Washington grants, the state’s Department of Commerce has received about 16,000 applications with an estimated additional 34,000 applications that people have started pending in our system.

Businesses can apply for up to $20,000 to offset costs or expenses due to COVID-19. The grants are targeted primarily for small businesses with $5 million or less in annual revenue that have had to close or significantly curtail operations as a result of current or ongoing public health measures. Examples include full-service restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys, or music and event venues.

The WSBDC has hosted informational webinars to answer many of the most common questions and problems business owners are asking about. Watch the  recorded webinar in English or Spanish.

If you need assistance with the application, email bizgrants@commerce.wa.gov or call 360.725.5003. If you need assistance in a language other than English, our Business Resiliency partners are also available. Again, call and email volumes are high so it may take a day or more to get a response. Businesses who need help should reach out today to ensure our teams can respond in time for the business to complete the application by 5 p.m. on Friday.

Here are quick tips for businesses who want to apply.

  • Apply during off-peak hours such as early morning or late evening. Site volumes can be very high during the day.
  • Double-check your spelling and keep an eye on both your inbox and spam folder for follow-up emails. The verification email will come from “Working Washington 3 Grant Program Team." Once you receive that email, make sure it’s added to your safe sender list so it goes to your inbox and not your spam folder.
  • We recommend completing the application on your desktop computer using Chrome web browser.
  • Read the instructions on the Grant Overview page of the application carefully.
  • If you’re applying on behalf of multiple businesses, you’ll need a separate UBI number and separate e-mail address for each. 
  • Clear your cache before starting a new application. If you are submitting multiple applications, you may find your computer preventing you from starting a fresh application.

This article describes the steps for clearing your cache in all browser types. If you don’t know what kind of browser you’re using, you should be able to see the name of it under the icon on your desktop screen.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Not quite sure how to answer one of the application questions? Having trouble with the portal website? We know the process can feel overwhelming or confusing. Our partners at the WSBDC are standing by to help. You can email bizgrants@commerce.wa.gov or call 360.725.5003. Call and email volumes are high so it may take a day or so to get a response. If you need assistance in a language other than English, our Business Resiliency partners are also available.
  • Gather your information before starting your application. The list of documents and information you’ll need is pretty short, but it helps to have it ready.
    • W-9 requires your Taxpayer Identification Number (EIN or social security)
    • W-9 forms can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf
    • Copy of valid government issued photo I.D.
    • Applicant W-9 Request for taxpayer Identification Number
    • For Tribal-member owned businesses: license or certification if business activity is conducted outside the tribal jurisdiction; letter or certification from the tribe recognizing you as a business if business activity is within the tribal jurisdiction.
    • Business gross revenues for 2019 and 2020. You will enter this information in the application and attest to it, but we do not require documentation. (NOTE: Some grant or loan programs require businesses to have been in operation a certain amount of time. This grant program does not have an eligibility requirement associated with business start date.)
    • NAICS code or clear description of your primary business activity. A NAICS code is helpful, but not necessary. If you have never used a NAICS code, you can learn more here: https://www.naics.com/what-is-a-naics-code-why-do-i-need-one/

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Unemployment updates

 

Job search requirements extended

The governor, with support from the Legislature, has announced that job search requirements will remain suspended through Jan. 19, 2021. This means the soonest claimants will be seek work is the week of Jan. 24. We are committed to helping you understand the requirements before you need to report job searches in your weekly claim. Learn more on our job search requirements page. For more information, see the ALERTS at www.esd.wa.gov

Waiting week requirements

Additionally, the waiting week requirement will remain suspended until Dec. 21. This means unless further action is taken, new claims with an effective date of claim of Dec. 27, or later, will require an unpaid waiting week. This will not affect current claims. 

Do you need to restart your claim?

If you applied for unemployment benefits earlier this year, and you haven’t submitted a weekly claim for five or more weeks, you can restart your claim online. Go to esd.wa.gov/unemployment/restart-your-claim for instructions and tips. 

New to unemployment 

If you haven’t applied for unemployment recently, go to esd.wa.gov/unemployment and follow the steps to apply. Read this guide to avoid common issues before applying.  

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Resources for small businesses

 

Webinar on business-friendly programs, business relief and more

State agencies have partnered to bring monthly webinars presenting information specific to Washington small businesses. Webinars feature brief presentations from state and federal partners and open-mic Q&A time. The last 2020 webinar will be held on, Thursday, Dec. 10 at 8:30 a.mClick here to register online.

 

U.S. Small Business Administration still accepting applications for COVID-19 EIDL funds

If you are a small businesses, nonprofit organization of any size, or a U.S. agricultural business with 500 or fewer employees that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you can still apply for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

 

Gov. Islee extends relief from penalties, fees, interest and due dates

Gov. Inslee has extended the time that businesses impacted by COVID-19 can request relief from state penalties, fees, interest and other due dates until Jan. 19. For more information, visit the Department of Revenue website.