As local businesses begin to expand their operations as part of the state’s Safe Start reopening plan during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bellevue’s economic development team has adjusted its support for retailers and restaurants.
City staff are available to help businesses adapt their operations through each phase of the reopening plan to align with the evolving public health and physical distancing requirements and their unique business needs. Support includes clarifying regulations, providing step-by-step guides and speeding permit turnaround times. Key examples include:
- Restaurant owners who wish to expand their patio dining space onto a sidewalk or into a parking area to add more tables while maintaining social distance between customers.
- Arts and cultural nonprofits interested in using a parking lot for a drive-in event to continue serving residents.
- Retail businesses in need of some space for curbside pickup of online orders.
“Our small businesses and nonprofits are a crucial part of what makes Bellevue a great place to live,” said Mayor Lynne Robinson. “We are working hard to provide business owners with every opportunity to succeed during this challenging time through flexible support options that meet their needs in each phase of recovery.”
The city has already received applications for adaptations from Bellevue restaurants interested in expanding patio seating. Application requirements will vary depending on the type of modification desired. Bellevue will work closely with applicants to identify options. Many applications can be reviewed and approved in less than a week. Interested businesses should visit Bellevue's COVID-19 Business Resources page for more information on current reopening parameters and guides for expanding their available space.
Bellevue expects that this program will grow and evolve as King County moves further into its reopening plan. For example, by Phase 3, fitness studios and gyms may be able to rent park space for outdoor fitness services. The city will also evaluate the performance of its support programs and adapt as needed based on feedback from businesses and nonprofits.
“We can’t underestimate the importance of hearing from our business and nonprofit community as we navigate this unprecedented time together and work to support each other through recovery,” said Bellevue Chief Economic Development Officer Jesse Canedo. “Their input helps us assess, plan and evolve our range of support actions to best capitalize on the opportunities offered at each stage of reopening.”
The latest services build on previous work by the city to support small business through COVID-19, including hundreds of proactive outreach calls and responses to requests for assistance. Other services include:
- (re)STARTUP425, a collaborative effort providing free, one-on-one technical assistance to small businesses and nonprofits on the Eastside. Right now, this program is assisting businesses in accessing federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, applications for which close June 30. To date, this service has assisted more than 300 Eastside businesses, including 85 in Bellevue.
- What’s Open Eastside, an interactive map highlighting more than 750 businesses and nonprofits that are operating, including those with special hours, pickup and delivery options, and online services. Businesses can add listings to the map at startup425.org/whatsopen.
- Deferred B&O tax filings and payments and waived water service late fees and disconnections.
Bellevue's economic development team serves as a strategic partner with the business community. From small businesses and one-person startups to Fortune 50 corporations, the team strives to welcome and assist local and global businesses with proactive, flexible support tailored to businesses' needs.