To help local businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing orders, the City of Bellevue has taken a number of actions, including:
- Deferred first- and second-quarter local B&O tax payments for certain small businesses until October.
- Halted water service disconnections and waived late fees for non-payment. Business customers may be eligible for payment plans.
- Created temporary curbside food pick-up zones in certain areas of downtown Bellevue with street parking and nearby restaurants and cafes.
- Adapted our Eastside Arts Partnership and Special Projects arts programs to, in some situations, allow for early invoicing and payment.
- Increased funding for local nonprofits providing key services to the area's most vulnerable residents.
We continue to monitor the situation, and are developing additional resources and tools.
Most importantly, please do not forget to document the impacts of COVID-19 on your business or nonprofit as the situation is unfolding. It will assist with relief efforts by local, state and federal agencies. Please sign up for our weekly COVID-19 resources newsletter and reach out to us if you have questions about resources, or if we can offer more help.
"Safe Start" Reopening
On May 4, Gov. Jay Inslee outlined a four-phase "Safe Start" reopening strategy, which is guiding the gradual lifting of the "Stay Home" order and the restart of business operations. On June 19, King County moved to Phase 2 of the state's Safe Start plan, which allows some additional activities. These include all activities allowed previously, plus:
- Restaurants offering indoor dining at 50% capacity with members of the same household allowed at a table and outdoor dining at 50% capacity
- In-store retail at 30% capacity
- Fitness studios outdoors with no more than 5 clients (both indoors and outdoors)
- Personal services (i.e. nail salons, barbers, etc.) at no more than 50% capacity
- Professional services at no more than 50% office capacity
What's Open Eastside offers a map-based guide to local restaurants and other businesses that have reopened.
Starting on July 7, the Department of Labor and Industries (LNI) will require businesses to require their customers and clients to wear face coverings or masks while on-site. LNI and the Department of Licensing may enforce penalties on businesses which refuse to require face coverings or masks.
King County has more information on allowable business operations and relevant requirements.
Tips for Returning Businesses
In many cases, businesses are returning to buildings that have been vacant for a couple of months. The Development Services and Utilities departments offer tips for ensuring the HVAC and water systems restart right.
Run HVAC systems in advance to detect musty smells or other odors that indicate potential mold growth. Thoroughly investigate the building for any signs of mold, in line with state Department of Health guidelines. Mold can grow on many different types of building materials, including ceiling tiles, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet and fabric. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) FAQ
For additional questions, please contact Development Services (DS_Support@bellevuewa.gov or 425-452-4570).
The Utilities Department reminds businesses to ensure the building's water system is properly flushed. Bacteria can grow in the stagnant water sitting in the pipes for weeks. To protect staff and public health, state and federal health agencies recommend flushing the plumbing system before reopening. Details
Relief Grants for Bellevue Businesses and Nonprofits
Bellevue’s City Council authorized $185,000 to support a Small Business Relief Grant program to provide relief to Bellevue businesses impacted by COVID-19 using federal CARES Act dollars. This program is providing a limited number of $5,000 grants to small, Bellevue businesses and nonprofit arts organizations that meet specific criteria. Applications are now closed, and successful applicants will be contacted by October 20.
Questions regarding this grant can be directed to City of Bellevue at email@example.com or 425-452-4114.
Businesses Eligible for Grants
- A small business or art specific non-profit organization
- In possession of a Bellevue business license obtained on or before July 1, 2019
- Businesses with 2-25 employees and gross 2019 receipts under $5M
- Business or non-profit art organization has sustained more than a 20 percent loss in year–over-year revenues as a result to COVID-19.
- Priority will be given to businesses who have not received relief funding from other sources
- Priority will be given to small businesses in industries most impacted by COVID-19 including businesses in the accommodation, food services, retail, arts, entertainment, recreation, healthcare and social assistance, educational services, and personal services industries
- Business in good standing (Has a current business license; City taxes and fees paid; current on all State and regulatory requirements; not facing pending litigation or legal action, including Bellevue code enforcement)
Application and Selection Process
- Application closed on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 11:59 p.m.
- Eligible applications will be randomly selected through a lottery process (priority will be given to businesses who have not received relief funding from other sources)
- Staff will notify successful applicants and provide grant contract information by October 20, 2020
- Eligible expenses must be within the time period of March 1, 2020 to December 3, 2020
- Payment of costs of business interruption caused by required closures not previously satisfied by any other funding source
- Payment of rent or required monthly loan payments
- Payments of regular wages, taxes, and typical benefits to employees
- Payment for personal protective equipment, sanitizer, disinfectant, other supplies, equipment or physical changes necessary for the protection of public health or the health of employees in relation to the COVID-19 emergency
- Typical operating costs and expenses, including those set forth on an income statement, as a regular, ongoing cost of operating the business
- Typical draw or wages on a regular interval to owner, provided such draws or wages are consistent with those paid in previous intervals, quarters or years
- Expenses considered ineligible business expenses by IRS
- Any expenses related to activities prohibited under COVID-19 guidelines, state, federal, or local law
- Expenses that have been or will be reimbursed under any federal program
- Severance pay to any employee of the organization
- Legal settlements
- Federal, state, or local taxes including property taxes
- Funds are distributed on a reimbursement basis
- Grant recipients are required to enter into a Grant Agreement with the City which will require filing a report on how the funds were spent with receipts for reimbursement
- Grant recipients must submit a W-9
- Grant funds may be taxable income; please consult with your financial advisor for guidance. A 1099 will be issued to a grant recipient as required by the IRS no later than January 2021.
Curbside Pickup, Patio Dining and Park Space
As part of the gradual reopening, some businesses may be interested in adapting their operations to align public health and social distancing requirements with business needs. For example, restaurants may be more interested in patio dining, and fitness studios may be interested in accessing park space.
The City of Bellevue is committed to supporting businesses making these adaptations. We've developed guides for a variety of interventions to use public and private space for business:
- Retail curbside pickup (both in-street and parking lot)
- Patio dining and retail (both in-street and parking lot)
- Rental of park space
- Drive-in cultural events
Need more information? Give us a call at 425-452-4114 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will walk you through your options.
Marketing and Business Development
What's Open Eastside: As we work through the phases of the state's "Safe Start" plan, many businesses will be adapting their operations to serve their customers through curbside pickup, takeout and delivery, and/or reduced hours. Several Eastside cities have joined together to promote local businesses, restaurants and cafés, and nonprofits, which are open with adapted operations. Join the list to promote your business to tens of thousands of Eastside residents.
Curbside Pickup Zones: In order to assist local restaurants and cafés, Bellevue's Transportation Department has established temporary, free Curbside Pickup Zones at several locations downtown, which will remain in place for the duration of this crisis. To request a Curbside Pickup Zone, contact Transportation.
Startup 425 is offering online workshops this summer on topics like starting a business, refining a business plan, managing finances and selling products online. These workshops are held in partnership with Greater Seattle SCORE, and are suitable both for current business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
REACH King County provides SizeUp, an online market research and business intelligence tool, free to local business owners and operators. The service can assist you in comparing your business to competitors, identifying demographic and psychographic information, and selecting the best places to target your marketing and promotional efforts. Reach out to REACH King County to begin using the SizeUp tool.
Grants and Loans
REACH King County is awarding a limited number of grants of $5,000 to $10,000 to eligible small businesses in heavily impacted industries using CARES Act funds. Applications close on September 28. Recipients will be notified by October 6.
GoFundMe.org is providing $500 grants to businesses which raise $500 or more in matching contributions on its platform.
Seattle Foundation has established a COVID-19 Response Fund, which will initially assist nonprofit organizations that work with communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its consequences. Please note that this fund will not initially assist nonprofits that have lost revenue, though this may be considered in the future.
All in Seattle: Contributing millions to proven nonprofits that can deliver it to those most in need. All In Seattle
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program: On June 15, the SBA reopened applications for its EIDL program from small businesses, nonprofits, and sole-proprietors in all industries. Contact our small business advisor if you need free, one-on-one assistance.
- This program is open to small businesses, sole-proprietorships, and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees.
- Loan applications must be made directly to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- Loans may be made in amounts up to $150,000 at a rate of 2.75% for nonprofits and 3.75% for small businesses.
- The application deadline is December 31, although the program could close sooner if funds are exhausted.
Business Impact NW: provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses, with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions. Additionally, it has compiled an outstanding set of COVID-19 resources, including free, one-on-one business coaching.
Craft3: provides low-interest loans to community-based nonprofits and small businesses, with more flexible criteria than traditional financial institutions. Additionally, it is allowing existing Craft3 clients to revise their loan agreements (i.e. due date extensions, temporary payment reductions, etc.).
Mercy Corps Northwest: offering clients loan payment deferrals.
Utilities, Taxes, Leases and Legal Help
Bellevue's Utilities Department is not disconnecting water service for non-payment at this time. Additionally, it is temporarily waiving late fees for non-payment.
Puget Sound Energy is not disconnecting utility service for non-payment at this time. Additionally, it is temporarily waiving late fees for non-payment. It will work with customers on options like payment plans and bill extensions.
Comcast Xfinity is not disconnecting internet service or assessing late fees at this time. Eligible customers can get more information and contact Comcast.
CenturyLink is not disconnecting internet service or assessing late fees at this time. Eligible customers can get more information and contact CenturyLink.
T-Mobile is not disconnecting small business customers due to inability to pay at this time. Additionally, it is temporarily waiving any late fees that small business customers incur due to the COVID-19 situation. Eligible customers can find more information from T-Mobile.
The City of Bellevue will defer Q1 and Q2 local business and occupation (B&O) tax payments for certain small businesses until October. This applies to businesses with gross receipts of less than $5 million annually. Find more information in our press release.
The State Department of Revenue is offering filing extensions and penalty waivers for state-level B&O taxes. Eligible businesses can get more information and apply.
The federal Internal Revenue Service has announced an extension of the April 15 tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, regardless of the amount owed. The IRS can provide additional information.
The City does not offer legal advice. However, many leases have force majeure provisions, which offer limited protection in the event of unexpected circumstances. Businesses can proactively reach out to their commercial landlords if it appears that they will be unable to meet their lease obligations.
Communities Rise has established a Commercial Lease Amendment Toolkit, designed to assist small businesses and nonprofits as they negotiate with landlords for rent relief and extensions.
The King County Sheriff's Office has announced that until further notice, it will not enforce residential or commercial evictions. Evictions may, however, continue to be filed in the King County Superior Court.
Communities Rise is providing a virtual legal clinic to help small businesses and nonprofits navigate the issues they might experience as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers a free, 60-minute phone or video call consultation with a lawyer which can meet each specific business' needs.
Artists and Cultural Nonprofits
King County (4Culture) is providing a Cultural Relief Fund of $1 million to organizations and individual artists impacted by facility closures, event cancellations, and loss of work. Applications are reviewed weekly on a rolling basis, with quick approval of funds.
ArtsWA is providing rapid-response relief grants to nonprofit and fiscally-sponsored arts groups which are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program provides funding of up to $5,000 to support general operations. Funding is provided by the CARES Act through the National Endowment for the Arts.
Resources and Surveys
- NEW! Take the City of Bellevue's Arts and Culture Audience Participation Survey, offered in seven languages.
- Take the Statewide Cultural & Creative Economic Recovery Survey
- Artist Trust: financial assistance resources for artists, cultural and community organizations. Join Artist Trust's COVID-19 Response for Washington State Artists Facebook Group.
- Americans for the Arts: impact survey and resources
- National Endowment for the Arts: detailed resource list, including for specific crafts/trades
- Artwork Archive: financial assistance for artists affected by COVID-19
- COVID-19 Freelance Artists Resources: List
- Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Arts: resources for the performing arts
- King County: unemployment and financial help for creatives
- Artist Resource List: Google doc from Le Weatherman Sekuler
- ArtsFund: relief fund enables arts organizations to retain core functions and staff to reopen when possible.
- Artist Trust: relief fund rapid response grants supporting critical needs of artists.
- American Guild of Musical Artists: temporary financial assistance to members in need.
- CERF+: one-time $1,000 grants available to meet urgent food, housing and health insecurities. The grants will be awarded in two cycles: the application opens July 8th and the deadline for the first round will be July 29th, the second will be September 9th.
- Foundation for Contemporary Arts: Emergency Fund for eligible visual and performing artists. Average grant award totals about $1,600.
- Recording Academy MusiCares: short-term financial assistance for personal needs due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Sweet Relief: donor-directed assistance fund for short-term financial support for musicians and music industry workers
Employment, Workforce and Mitigation
WorkSource has compiled a long list of businesses in essential industries that are currently hiring, including displaced workers. Jobs include opportunities in grocery, retail, fulfillment, healthcare and janitorial.
Additionally, the Employment Security Department is currently (and quickly) hiring remote workers.
Unemployment and Insurance
Temporary rules expand unemployment benefits to cover more people, including many sole proprietors, contractors, artists, and gig workers. At present, these rules also provide an additional weekly COVID-19 impact payment of up to $600.
The Employment Security Department also administers the state's paid family/medical leave program, and has established detailed guides for your situation. The state is waiving the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment insurance. The order is retroactive for claims filed up to March 8.
Washington Healthplanfinder, the state's health insurance exchange, has opened a special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are or become uninsured. Some may be eligible for Apple Health (Medicaid). Healthplanfinder's FAQ
We understand that some businesses can continue and are continuing to operate. We have resources.
The Office of Gov. Inslee has established a detailed list of financial, export, insurance and workforce assistance which may be available for businesses and nonprofits.
The Washington Small Business Development Center has developed a detailed Business Resiliency Toolkit to help businesses plan and adapt to disasters. Additionally, the center is running resiliency webinars through this crisis.
Public Health Resources for Businesses
- COVID-19 resources and information (Greater Seattle Partners)
- Planning for a Coronavirus Pandemic: A Guide for Businesses (Public Health - Seattle & King County)
- Business resources and checklist (Centers for Disease Control)
- Instructions for Employers on Mitigating an Outbreak (Washington Department of Health)
- Model employer policies and resources (Business Health Trust)