Coming Soon: Working Washington Grants for Businesses Affected by US-Canadian Border Closure

Presented by the Washington State Department of Health.

The Washington State Department of Commerce has announced a new grant program launched on October 4 to help some small businesses suffering from the closure of the US-Canadian border. The border has been closed to most travelers since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Working Washington Grants: Border Business Relief Program will focus on customer-facing companies that have experienced difficulties specifically due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Companies must have reported annual revenue of $ 5 million or less in 2019 to the Revenue Department and be headquartered in Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, Island, Skagit, Whatcom, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, or Pend Oreille counties.

Information and a preview of the application are now available on The application portal will be open from 4 to 18 October. Customer support will be available in English and Spanish starting September 29th.

“For businesses that depend on visitors entering or leaving Canada, this closure has been extraordinarily difficult. This grant program is one way we can help small businesses hold on until US and Canadian officials reach an agreement on the reopening, “said Governor Jay Inslee. In July, Inslee visited the businesses at Point Roberts, a small border town that was essentially isolated due to closure.

The grants will be up to $ 50,000 and will take into account whether the company has received a previous Working Washington grant.

This Targeted Grant Program will prioritize companies that meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Customer-facing businesses that require direct, in-person interaction with customers for a significant portion of the business. Examples include a retail store or a beauty salon.

• Businesses located within a 20-mile radius of a Canadian border crossing or port.

• Industrial sectors most affected by the closure, which includes, but is not limited to, retail, tourism, hospitality, leisure and entertainment.

• Size of the business (measured by 2019 revenues)

• Lost earnings between 2019 and 2020 and / or additional expenses to maintain safe operations

• Businesses operating in a rural or low-income community and / or owned by people from a historically disadvantaged population (minority, veterans, LGBTQ + or owned by women).

Commerce, which has administered nearly a dozen corporate and nonprofit grant programs to date, will also be working on a new, broader round of state legislator-funded Working Washington corporate grants in the 2021 session. That program will likely launch this winter.

“We appreciate the support of the governor and lawmakers in our many efforts to support communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Lisa Brown, director of the Department of Commerce. “While the recovery is going well for some companies, many continue to face daunting challenges. It is very erratic at this point. A strong and fair recovery requires us to focus on those who still face obstacles to get back on their feet. “

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