Recent Updates

Washington State Business Grants Available Soon

This week, the Governor signed legislation that includes direct financial assistance for small businesses. The Early Action grant program will be administered by the Department of Commerce, not Thurston Strong. For information, visit The application portal is expected to open sometime in March. Please note, there are a number of restrictions that may impact your eligibility, so visit the site early to ensure you qualify and have the proper information ready. Funding will go quickly.

We continue to track federal legislation containing additional business and worker relief aid. At this time, it remains under debate in Congress.

Small Business Administration Tweaks Payroll Protection Program (PPP)

Adjustments to the PPP in the most current round of funding provided greater access to those most in need. A greater share of funding is now available exclusively for businesses with fewer than 10 employees, those located in rural areas and others who bank through Community Development Financial Institutions that capitalize small and minority-owned businesses. Other changes have reduced application paperwork requirements for small businesses and nonprofits and increased the amount of eligible funding for sole proprietors and independent contractors. Businesses that fall under these categories are encouraged to apply for a forgivable PPP loan in early March. For more info, visit

Business and Worker Resource Support Update

We are tracking developing State and Federal legislation that will yield new financial and technical resource support for workers and businesses. While details have not yet been confirmed, it appears more rounds of relief aid are on the way, beginning as early as March. As always, we will post pertinent info on this site and notify all subscribers upon confirmation of the facts.

New Grants Programs for Artists Coming Soon

The State of Washington will soon open several arts-related grant portals. For more info, please visit Opportunities available for:

Partnership Grant

Funding amount is between $8,000- $15,000

  • Application Opens: February 25, 2021
  • Application Deadline: April 1, 2021

Creative Start Grant

Funding amount for Single Site: $5,000-$10,000
Funding amount for Regional (multi-site): $10,000- $25,000

  • Application Opens: March 4, 2021
  • Applications Deadline: April 8, 2021

Pandemic Relief grants to Small Organizations

Funding up to $3,000

  • Rolling application period February 1 – April 30, 2021
  • Funds must be expended by June 30, 2021

Employers: The Washington State ESD Shared Work Program Still an Option

If returning part-time or full-time permanent employees are causing your business financial hardship, Washington’s nationally recognized SharedWork program might help. SharedWork allows employers to reduce hours by as much as 50%, while employees collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of lost wages. To determine if you’re eligible: 800-752-2500 or

Workers: UI Payments of Extra $300 to Start in Mid-January

New federal legislation that expands CARES Act provisions includes an extra $300 per week for eligible claimants who receiving benefits from any unemployment program. The extra payment is called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Claimants eligible for benefits from the week ending Jan. 2, to the week ending Mar. 13, will receive the extra amount. Payments should start Jan. 15. Track developments on ESD’s website and social media:

Businesses: PPP Portal Opens Jan. 15 for Small Lenders, Jan. 19 for All Others

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced they will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, at 9:00 am EST. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.

If you need help finding a lender, visit:

For those seeking more information, here are excerpts from the SBA press release:

  • Earlier in the week, SBA granted dedicated PPP access to Community Financial Institutions (CFIs) which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to reach underserved and minority small businesses.
  • On Friday, SBA will continue its emphasis on reaching smaller lenders and businesses by opening to approximately 5,000 more lenders, including community banks, credit unions, and farm credit institutions.  The agency also plans to have dedicated service hours for these smaller lenders after the portal fully re-opens next week.
  • First Draw PPP Loans are for borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before August 8, 2020. The first round, which ran from March to August 2020, was a historic success helping 5.2 million small businesses keep 51 million American workers employed.
  • Second Draw PPP Loans are for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or less, that previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will use or have used the full amount for authorized uses, and that can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. The maximum amount of a Second Draw PPP loan is $2 million.

Updated Lender forms, guidance, and resources at and

PPP Loan Update

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in partnership with the US Treasury, opened the preliminary Payroll Protection Program (PPP) application portal on Monday, January 11. This preliminary portal is focused on select minority and disadvantaged business institutions that serve clients seeking a “first-draw” PPP loan. We are awaiting further instructions for individual first-draw and second-draw PPP loan applicants. To get a head start preparing, please consider participating in one or more training webinars offered by the Washington State Business Development Center (WSBDC):

For more background information on the next round of PPP lending, check out the Washington State Department of Commerce: