City of Seattle raising money for next round of small business grants

SEATTLE -- The city of Seattle is raising money for the next round of picks for its Small Business Stabilization Fund. So far, it's raised $400,000 and will let applicants know when the grant money is available.

Shandon Graybeal owns a gift shop in West Seattle called Alair. Like many small businesses, she says Alair is taking a big hit during the coronavirus pandemic, so she turned to grants.

"I applied for so many and the process takes a bit of time," said Graybeal.

She applied for a handful of grants and says she was denied from every application.

"I applied for the one that Amazon did for local businesses. We're 3 miles away and I got rejected because we were too far," said Graybeal.

She also got an email yesterday from the city of Seattle saying she wasn't selected for a piece of its $2.5 million Small Business Stabilization Fund.

"It makes you want to give up on it. You get the rejection letters and it's like, what's the point?" said Graybeal.

Graybeal says she's not blaming anyone but says times are tough and grant applications are time-consuming. She has decided to spend her efforts in keeping her business afloat.

"I think I'm done with grants. I feel like at this point, we don't know what's going to happen next. We don't know how long we're going to be doing this. I feel like my time can be spent is so many other ways," said Graybeal.

Jeff Shulman at the University of Washington Foster School of Business has this advice for business owners during this crisis.

"It's kind of two stages. Right now you need to adapt to the current reality and keep an eye on how you're going to adapt to a new reality where people are going to be hesitant to come into large groups and hesitant to spend discretionary income. We can't trivialize the struggle our small businesses are going through but there is some degree of hope that Seattle has a creative spirit and inventive innovative culture, and if small businesses can help people through these dark times, they will get through it as well," said Shulman.

Businesses that applied for the Stabilization Fund during the first round do not need to reapply. They will automatically be considered. Be sure your business meets the grant's requirements because the city says of the nearly 9,000 applications during the first round, about 2400 were ineligible.