WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT...
Washington's Reopening, "Washington Ready"
As of June 30, 2021, the state of Washington has reopened, with most COVID-19 restrictions now limited. The governor still emphasizes that the pandemic has not ended, and the state needs to remain vigilant. To that end, face coverings are still required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor settings. Furthermore, according to OSHA and the Washington Department of Labor & Industries, employers still need to recognize that COVID-19 is a workplace hazard. For additional information, please see the Washington Ready proclamation, which serves as the state's reopening document.
Job Search Requirements
Job search requirements are coming back. The governor suspended job search requirements at the start of the pandemic, but they will be going back into effect in early July. To remain eligible for unemployment insurance, claimants will be required to look for work and document approved job search activities each week.
Financial Support for Businesses
Newly-opened Small Business Flex Fund program offers low-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits
The Washington State Department of Commerce this week launched a new Small Business Flex Fund. The Fund is a public-private partnership aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits -- particularly those in low-income communities -- recover and grow as communities reopen for business. Governor Jay Inslee in November 2020 approved a foundational investment of $30 million for Commerce to create a recovery loan program. Commerce is partnering with several financial institutions and community-based organizations to lend $100 million or more to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees and annual revenues of less than $3 million.
Qualifying businesses and nonprofits can apply for loans up to $150,000. Loans are available in 60- or 72-month loan terms at interest rates between 3-4.5%. The Fund works with and through local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which serve under resourced communities and underbanked businesses the Small Business Flex Fund aims to help. Interested applicants pre-apply on the Flex Fund's online portal and, if they qualify, will be matched with a lender. Once matched, the participating lender will assist the business owner throughout the application process and provide additional advisory support. If a business doesn't qualify, they will be connected a trusted community organization that can assist with finding other resources. For more information and to apply, visit smallbusinessflexfund.org.
Employer Tax Relief
With a goal of supporting businesses, the state legislature is stopping more than $900 million in employment taxes from being charged in 2021 and another $1.8 billion in the future. Learn more on the Employment Security Department's employer news and updates page. Also new this year, the legislature set aside $500 million in an unemployment insurance relief account, directing assistance to many of the hardest-hit industries. Employers will see these adjustments on their December tax rate notice. Read more about how the Legislature is helping employers with employment taxes for 2021 and beyond.
Trainings and Webinars
State Department of Commerce launches new round of no-cost ScaleUp Business Trainings.
ScaleUp: The Rebuild Edition is focused on helping small businesses restart and rebuild by improving their strategic decision-making, creating new operational efficiencies and strengthening the bottom line. Topics include creating efficient business systems, improving product/service alignment, creating a stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace, understanding financial statements and key business drivers, increasing sales leads and improving the sales funnel. A special "study hall" provides additional opportunities for private mentoring and coaching. The cost of this program valued at $1,599 is provided at no cost to Washington state businesses thanks in part to a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Grow Your Business -- Free July 14th Webinar
Grow Your Business is a free, one-hour webinar for established businesses that are actively seeking opportunities to grow their business from beyond its current model -- new markets, new products, new locations, new staffing, and new financing. Its focus is on government-supported opportunities and assistance and regulatory impacts of growth to factor in your planning. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. The next webinar is scheduled for July 14 at 2 pm. CLICK HERE for more information about the SBRR webinars and to register online.
Start Your Business -- Free August 10th Webinar
Start Your Business is a free, one-hour webinar for aspiring entrepreneurs or newly-started businesses to gain valuable information about business registration and licensing, other regulatory requirements, and resources for further assistance. The next webinar is scheduled for August 10th at 2 pm. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. CLICK HERE for more information abou the SBRR webinars and to register online.
The Child Tax Credit
Raising children can be expensive, and the Child Tax Credit is here to help. President Biden's American Rescue Plan increased the amount of the 2021 Child Tax Credit to support families with children. The full benefit of the Child Tax Credit is now $300 per month per child under age 6 and $250 for each child age 6 to 17. Even families that don't usually file taxes with the IRS may be eligible, and must apply by July 15, 2021. Learn mroe and check out resources to help you fill our your form at ChildTaxCredit.gov.