Funding Resources for Washington
Strong project outcomes require an equally strong knowledge of funding, financing, and grant support. We help our clients understand and pursue the resources necessary for project success, whether it’s building a funding and financing strategy, connecting with funding agencies, or positioning a project in a grant application.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | September 12, 2023
Funding for Climate and Resiliency Planning for Washington Local Governments
Grant funds support planning to comply with new requirements of the Growth Management Act.
The Washington State Department of Commerce is providing up to $30 million to eligible cities and counties to update and/or implement comprehensive plan policy and development regulations to reduce greenhouse gases; protect and enhance environmental, economic, and human health and safety; enhance resilience to climate impacts and natural hazards; and advance environmental justice. Local governments required to update plans and policies by 2025 and 2026 will receive priority over those required to update by 2027. The grant instructions provide the timeline for planning requirements, the maximum available funding by county or city, and the planning requirements each jurisdiction must complete. No matching funding is required. Applications are due October 31, 2023. For grant guidance and more information, visit the Climate Program website.
Two Washington Programs to Expand EV Charging Opportunities
A total of $64 million available from a Commerce program open now; $3.5 million available from Ecology starting in late September.
The Washington State Department of Commerce is providing up to $64 million to public agencies, utilities, tribal governments, and nonprofits through its Electric Vehicle Charging Program, which targets providing electric vehicle charging in underserved communities, multifamily residences, and fleet depots or workplaces. Awards in this program will vary, depending on the type of infrastructure proposed to be installed. Applications will close on December 1, 2023. For more information and program guidelines, visit the Electric Vehicle Charging Program website.
The Washington State Department of Ecology will provide up to $1 million in the first phase of the Charge Where You Are program open to public organizations, tribal governments, nonprofits, and businesses. The program funds the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in multi-unit residential buildings, public, fleet, and workplace charging locations. Awards will be available for up to 80 percent of project costs or $10,000 per plug; projects that qualify for a reduced match may receive up to 100 percent of the project costs. Program guidelines will be available September 26; applications are due November 16, 2023. View a fact sheet about the upcoming Charge Where You Are program.
A Total of Up to $12 Million Available in Washington State for Community Outdoor Athletic Facilities
The program provides up to $1.2 million per applicant for developing facilities or acquiring land for facilities.
The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office will make up to $1.2 million available through a grant for local or tribal governments, or districts authorized to manage community athletic facilities, for the development or acquisition of land for outdoor athletic facilities. Eligible projects include those for ball fields, pools, a skate park, infrastructure to support paddling, and other similar activities that accommodate practice, training, or competition rather than leisure use. Applicants are not required to contribute matching resources. The application window is slated to open September 29, 2023, with preapplications due November 15, 2023, and full applications due February 1, 2024. Details and the application program manual will be available at the Community Outdoor Athletic Facilities website.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | May 10, 2023
$850,000 in Funding for Innovative Solutions to Turn Industrial Wastes into Value
Applications for the Industrial Symbiosis Program are due June 9, 2023.
The Washington Department of Commerce’s (Commerce’s) Industrial Symbiosis Program provides a total of $850,000 for projects that add new value to industrial wastes and residues—such as energy, biosolids, reclaimed water, and other byproducts—through new uses and markets, collaboration with other industries, and innovative solutions. The program goal is to create a sustainable state economy that maximizes reuse and minimizes disposal. Commerce seeks applicants that propose expanding existing efforts, implementing a new project, or researching and developing a solution for repurposing industrial waste into beneficial use. Focus areas include wastes from operations in agriculture, forestry, utilities, construction, food production, plastic manufacturing, and waste heat. Applicants may propose a project with a collaborator; public utilities and municipal partners eligible to apply. Read more at the Commerce website. Contact Rob Duff, at email@example.com or 360-764-6511, Kirk Esmond, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Lauren Annette Boyan at OEDCProcurement@commerce.wa.gov, with questions about the opportunity.
Shoreline Planning Competitive Grant Application Period Opens in July
$3 Million Available to Support Shoreline Planning Efforts.
All Washington towns, cities, and counties with a Shoreline Master Program (SMP) are eligible to apply for Washington State Department of Ecology grant funds to support existing efforts. Past funded projects have included improving implementation of SMPs, planning for climate resilience, shoreline permit monitoring, public access, and conducting channel migration zone studies. The maximum project award amount will be $250,000; eligible projects of all scopes will be considered. Funding guidelines will be available in mid-May; the notice of funding opportunity will be released in early June. Ecology will host information workshops between June 5 and June 12; the application opens July 5 and closes August 17. For more information, contact Shoreline Planning Grant Program Coordinator Rebecca Rothwell at 360-810-0025 or Rebecca.email@example.com, or visit Shoreline planning competitive grants.
Contact us below for help with grant application and strategy.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | February 17, 2023
Washington Evergreen Growth Grants
$2 million is available to support manufacturing in WA.
Washington’s Department of Commerce is funding up to ten grants of $200,000–$400,000 to support manufacturing and research and development jobs that align with the state’s key sectors, such as aerospace, agriculture, renewable energy, maritime, and advanced manufacturing. These funds support job creation through research and development, pilot or demonstration projects, and strategic assistance to meet emerging market demands and promote supply chain resilience and workforce development initiatives. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and funds must be spent by June 30, 2023. Eligible applicants include private businesses, which is unusual for a grant program. For more information, contact Managing Director Radi Simeonova (firstname.lastname@example.org), and read more about the program at this link.
Washington Flood Control Assistance Account Program
Funds can support planning for flood hazard mitigation and management activities.
The Washington Department of Ecology will start accepting applications for its Flood Control Assistance Account Program on February 15, 2023. Applications are due March 30, and a maximum of $250,000 per award is anticipated. These grants are big news—for the past 12 years, Ecology lacked the funding to support flood risk reduction planning. Applications for planning projects require a 25% match. Learn more at this link and see what past successful applicants are up to.
Washington Clean Energy Fund Rural Clean Energy Grants
Applications due March 23
$4.6 million is available for rural communities.
Washington’s Department of Commerce is seeking applications for $4.6 million in grant funding to support clean energy projects. The solicitation has three tracks:
- Dairy digester bioenergy projects ($1.8 million)
- Rural clean energy innovation projects ($1.8 million)
- Tribal projects (minimum $921,500)
These funds can give a boost to a wide swath of clean energy projects. Don’t delay—applications are due March 23. Learn more at this link.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | October 4, 2022
Washington Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Guidance Is Out
Applications accepted October 1 to November 30, 2022
Washington State’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has released guidance for the upcoming round of applications. Both preconstruction and construction loans are available to support water system maintenance and improvements that safeguard public health.
This year, due to an unprecedented increase in funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, specific funds are available to support lead service line replacement, and emerging contaminants like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). For a breakdown of this year’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) funding, see this fact sheet.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | August 29, 2022
Due September 15: Washington State Department of Commerce Electrification of Transportation Systems Grants (Phase One)
$970,000 available to support planning and implementation of electrical transportation infrastructure
New funding is available from the Washington State Department of Commerce to support the electrification of transportation infrastructure. With anticipated awards between $100,000 and $400,000, these grants are designed to help communities identify and get ahead of infrastructure upgrades necessary to integrate increased electrical loads from electric vehicles.
Importantly, this funding is also designed to be accessible, especially to smaller jurisdictions with limited staffing. Eligible applicants include local governments, Tribes, and ports and public utilities. The program requires a 1:1 match, though match reductions are available for Tribes and partnerships consisting of two or more eligible applicants.
The application occurs in two phases, and Phase 1 requires a 600-word narrative, submitted by September 15. Commerce will issue letters with feedback to Phase One applicants, who can then proceed to Phase Two, with applications due November 21. Learn more at the program’s website.
MFA caught up with Nick Manning, point of contact on this program for the Washington State Department of Commerce. We asked Nick a few questions about this grant opportunity. Here’s what we learned:
In a few sentences, what do potential applicants need to know about Commerce’s Electrification of Transportation Systems (ETS) grant program? Why should this funding be a priority for local jurisdictions?
When it rains it pours, and any local jurisdictions in Washington state out looking for funding to support transportation electrification should make sure to bring an umbrella. The Federal Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Act, and state programs from the Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Ecology and Commerce, provide ample opportunities to electrify transportation markets. Just like rainfall in Washington, however, this funding is not always equally distributed equally across the state.
The biggest focus so far has been major transit corridors. Both the federal Infrastructure Bill and WSDOT’s recent opportunities strongly emphasize the ability for electric vehicles to travel up and down major highways without worrying about gaps in charging infrastructure. Thus, grants have largely been awarded to communities within a mile of Interstate 5, Interstate 90, and other priority corridors.
The electrification of transportation systems (ETS) program at Commerce is instead designed to address apparent gaps in funding opportunities by helping rural and underserved communities participate in and benefit from the growing transportation electrification market transformation. Awards will be distributed to applicants with limited capacity for widespread transportation electrification and who have not previously been targets for public funding. ETS grants provide funding for local governments, federally recognized Tribal governments, small utilities, and state agencies to integrate and manage electrical load from electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). Funding covers innovative projects that prepare communities to construct and/or expand EVSE through early-stage consultant studies, engineer designs, or direct capital asset investments and infrastructure upgrades. Any local jurisdiction who feel they are not a priority for corridor charging efforts should feel encouraged to apply for any early-stage developmental work all the way up to installing and operating charging infrastructure.
ETS will offer two rounds of funding: one that came out in early August, with applications due September 15, and the other likely coming out later this year. What is each round of funding trying to do? And will there be two rounds of funding in the future?
Both rounds, while distinct, work to broaden electric transportation markets in Washington by widening the diversity of communities participating in them. Round one is focused on early-stage development and will award grants to projects that identify, design, or install capital assets or infrastructure upgrades to integrate and manage electrical load. In other words, round one targets communities that are not ready to install charging infrastructure and funds the needed upgrades and early-stage studies to prepare them to do so.
Round two is narrower and will provide funding for charging infrastructure in rural communities specifically. Where round one targets communities just getting started, round two will focus on those who are ready to install EVSE and helps them construct or expand their systems. Round two will focus on projects where charging infrastructure gaps exist in rural communities.
It is unclear if future solicitations will be broken into two rounds, but there will be more money available from Commerce in 2023.
What’s required to apply for funding in round one? What bonuses are available to potential applicants?
To answer the question directly, what is initially required is a 550-650 word cover letter submitted by September 15. Now let’s take a step back and understand the logic.
Applying for a public grant is a lot of work. Moreover, the primary targets for this ETS program tend to face capacity and resource constraints that make applying even harder. Commerce is working to dismantle these barriers, primarily employing three strategies:
- Two-Phase Application:
Applications for Round One (that opened on August 1 on the website) will be accepted in two phases. Due on September 15 is the first phase application, a 550-650 word cover letter. Just a page or so. Commerce will evaluate these one-pagers for basic administrative requirements and the criteria listed in the Phase One application and in the RFA (both documents found on the website). All applicants will be given a “discourage” or “encourage” notice via email by October 10, and from there may decide to pursue the full application in Phase Two, or not. Applicants who choose to fill out the full application must submit them by November 21.
- Reduced Match Requirements
If time is the first resource constraint, money is certainly the second. Especially for small and rural communities, meeting strict match requirements is a common informal disqualifier. ETS Round One will include significant match reductions based on the primary applicant and any partnerships. If the primary applicant is a Tribal government, the project is subject to a 1:10 match ratio, where Commerce contributes $10 for every $1 from the applicant. If the primary applicant is a small utility, local government, or state agency, and is partnering with another small utility or Tribal government, the project is subject to a 1:5 match ratio. Partners must submit letters of support as part of the full Phase Two application to qualify.
- Scoring Preference
To further elevate target communities, evaluative criteria are designed to favor first-time applicants and vulnerable communities. Some examples include: increased preference for applicants who have not previously received a grant award for ETS projects, addition points for locations that have not initiated market transformation efforts, requirements regarding climate change impacts, air pollution exposure, and economic opportunity in rural communities, preference for strong community need and engagement, requirements for reporting specific community benefits, preference for projects that demonstrate a strong need for funding, and others included in the RFA. Additionally, Commerce will not be scoring match funding. Applicants are required to provide it, but those with greater capacity to provide match will not receive preference because of it.
When we think about electrifying transportation systems, we often think about cities. But what about rural areas? How should they be thinking about ETS funding?
The name of the game in rural Washington is community benefits. Projects should generate economic activity in local communities, increase transportation access and decrease cost, and meet community-specific needs. That said, each community is unique and serves a variety of end-users. In rural communities especially, local commuting tends to cover a much wider area and charging should be designed to accommodate these long travel times for locals. Where possible, chargers should be installed near amenities and shops to bring increased tourism and revenue to local businesses. Electric public transportation is also incredibly important to provide services to those who do not have or can’t afford an EV.
Funding opportunities need to be designed for rural communities with as few strings attached as possible. We should be trying things even if they aren’t perfect. There is a chicken and egg scenario with the rollout of EVs and EVSE, where one cannot exist without the other. But we have to begin somewhere, and the key is to just get started.
What’s the next step for those interested in applying?
Round one, Phase one applications are due on September 15. At this stage, applicants should develop a solid project concept and do their best to answer the questions laid out in the phase on application on the website. Completed phase one applications should be mailed to email@example.com.
Questions? Nick Manning, Program Manager, Energy Programs in Communities at the Department of Commerce, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due September 9: Working Washington Grants: Round 5
$70 million helps promote COVID recovery in targeted sectors for nonprofits and small businesses.
This funding, appropriated by the Washington State Legislature, is available to support for-profit and nonprofit businesses who can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixty percent of the funding is identified for arts, museums, and science sectors, and 40 percent for most other sectors, including hospitality, fitness, and personal services. This funding targets businesses that reported less than $5 million in gross receipts in 2019 and that reported revenues of at least $10,000 in 2019 or 2020. Applications will be accepted through September 9. For more information, visit the program page at the Washington State Department of Commerce.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | June 27, 2022
Washington State Department of Commerce Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund
Multiple Washington State funding sources are available to support land revitalization, and are available to both private and public sector applicants. One source is Commerce’s Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (BRLF), which recently received a $3.9 million grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The BRLF offers low-interest loans (typically 1.5 percent) to public, private, and nonprofit applicants to support remediation activities such as excavation, management of hazardous materials, site monitoring, and related sampling. Under certain conditions, it can also support Phase I and II environmental site assessments. For nonprofit and public sector borrowers, up to 30 percent of the loan may be forgivable, to a maximum of $200,000.
The average loan amount is $500,000, and there is an origination fee of 1 percent of the funded amount. Applications are processed within four to six months, and while a lien on real property is required, Commerce may subordinate to loans with a greater value (and has done so in the past). Applications are considered on a rolling basis, and affordable housing is not a required redevelopment outcome. Detailed eligibility criteria are available here.
We asked the Department of Commerce (DOC) a few questions about the BRLF. Here’s what we learned:
MFA: Where does BRLF funding come from?
DOC: Since 2000, Commerce has successfully managed the BRLF in close partnership with the Washington State Department of Ecology and EPA Region 10. To-date, the program has cleaned up 15 projects spanning 91 acres through investments of nearly $11 million that in turn have leveraged more than $8 million in other resources. Ultimately, these projects have generated more than 1,600 housing units, 730,000 square feet of commercial space, and one million square feet of greenspace while leveraging almost $900 million in downstream redevelopment investment. Nearly 1,700 temporary and permanent jobs resulted at sites made ready for reuse by BRLF investments.
Washington state was recently awarded a $3.9-million grant from the EPA. The new funding will provide more local governments, non-profits, Tribes, ports, and private businesses with access to capital needed to revitalize viable brownfield sites and spur environmental and economic renewal with a focus on disadvantaged communities. The grant is part of a historic $1.5-billion nationwide investment by EPA.
MFA: Among public funding sources to support brownfield redevelopment, the BRLF is somewhat unique because it is available to public, private and nonprofit sector applicants. How does the program work differently for private versus public or nonprofit sector applicants?
DOC: Local governments, non-profits, tribes, ports have the opportunity to apply for funding for project in the form of a loan, discounted loan or grant depending on project details. Private entities, for profit can apply for the BRLF are not eligible for grant or discounted loan. Project details help us make determination on the loan/grant terms and conditions. Applications are considered on an ongoing, first-come, first-served basis.
MFA: What can applicants do with BRLF funding?
DOC: Applicants can
- Identify brownfields and develop inventories
- Prioritize sites
- Conduct outreach to property owners
- Plan for reuse
- Environmental site assessments
- Community engagement
- Cleanup planning
- Environmental cleanup
For more details about types of funding, visit this link.
MFA: What’s an example of a BRLF-funded project?
DOC: Southeast Effective Development (SEED) launched Phase IV of their Rainier Court Redevelopment in September 2016. Using over $2 million from the BRLF, SEED cleaned up the site which had a history of industrial use, paint storage, vehicle salvage and maintenance and illegal garbage dumping. The mixed-use property on Rainer Avenue in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood is near Link light rail and provides 81 units of affordable senior apartments along with over 2,600 square feet of commercial space. Read about more projects here: Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund – Success Stories (wa.gov)
MFA: Who at Commerce helps potential applicants through the BRLF application process?
DOC: Kari Sample is the full-time Program Manager for the BRLF in Washington state. Kari’s experience spans over 15 years in state government with local projects, the Public Works Board infrastructure funding programs, and leadership positions with Infrastructure Assistance Coordinating Council treasurer and coordinating technical assistance teams. Kari is focused on creating opportunities for communities to thrive in a healthy and safe environment.
For additional information, questions, or to discuss your project needs, contact Kari Sample, Program Manager at 360-999-0606 or email email@example.com.
We asked Kari, “What’s one thing you’d like people to know about this program?” Here’s what she shared:
“Here in Washington state, the program leads with environmental justice principles. Communities with a brownfield site can accelerate their journey to sustainability with these critical federal resources that bridge the gap for funding clean up. The program enables communities to thrive through redevelopment that drives economic activity and delivers community benefits, such as needed affordable housing and greenspaces.”
Thanks to the Washington State Department of Commerce and BRLF Manager Kari Sample for their answers to our questions. To learn more about the BRLF, visit Brownfields: Applications and Guidebook.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | August 25, 2021
Washington State Legislature Update
Washington’s 105-day legislative session ended April 27. Among other developments, the legislature:
- Authorized tax increment financing (TIF) (HB 1189). Public entities can now create TIF districts with lifespans of up to 25 years to fund infrastructure and other public improvements. This version of TIF is more expansive than past versions adopted in Washington. For further details, see MFA’s recent blog on this topic.
- Expanded the use of the Targeted Urban Area ten-year property tax exemption for constructing new industrial and manufacturing facilities (HB 1386), making this exemption available to all cities.
- Expanded the authority of ports to provide public broadband (HB 1336 and SB 5385). Because the two bills conflict, it remains to be seen how their differences will be reconciled.
- Funded the Department of Ecology’s Remedial Action Grants program at $71.194 million for 2021–2023.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | May 12, 2021
Commerce and ArtsFund Partner to Offer Over $10 Million in Grants to Help Nonprofit Community Organizations
The Washington State Department of Commerce is partnering with ArtsFund to provide over $10 million in grants to help community organizations across the state that have been impacted by the pandemic. Applications are due May 24.
The Nonprofit Community Relief grant program focuses on arts, culture, science, and heritage nonprofits, as well as organizations whose primary mission is to serve veterans, neighborhood organizations, and sports and recreation programs for adults and/or children.
Eligible organizations must have 501(c)(3) status, or fiscal sponsorship by a 501(c)(3), along with appropriate documentation dating back to their 2019 fiscal year. Additionally, organizations must have operating budgets of at least $25,000.
The Nonprofit Community Relief grant application portal opened May 10 at www.artsfund.org/ncrgrants. Applications are online only.
Commerce strongly recommends that interested organizations explore the website early to determine their eligibility and review application requirements and FAQs. Organizations that are led by and/or serve underresourced communities, culturally diverse populations, and underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.
For more information and FAQs, visit www.artsfund.org/nonprofit-community-recovery-grants/.
Phase One Applications for USDA RD&D Grants Due May 28
Approximately $7.8 million is available from the USDA under a new round of funding for Washington-based entities to engage in strategic research and development of new and emerging clean energy technologies that will help achieve state, national, and international climate goals.
These phased grants will support statewide clean energy strategies that align with the 2021 State Energy Strategy and Energy Climate Policy Advisory Committee report’s recommendations. Phase one applications are due May 28, 2021.
This round of funding focuses on the equitable distribution of clean-energy-transition benefits to vulnerable populations as well as to tribal governments and their affiliates, including tribal colleges, by prioritizing and incentivizing projects that:
- Establish a partnership or ensure a formal advisory role for projects that serve vulnerable populations or tribes.
- Reduce the energy burden for prioritized groups and foster economic development.
- Reduce emissions; increase access to clean energy and increase community resiliency for prioritized groups.
- Increase tribal energy sovereignty.
For more information, visit https://www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/clean-energy-fund/energy-rdd-clean-energy-fund/.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | September 15, 2020
Infrastructure Assistance Coordinating Council Helps Communities, Tribes Find Resources
If you’re a local or tribal government in Washington State, you may have heard of the Infrastructure Assistance Coordinating Council (IACC). In case you don’t know the IACC, this nonprofit is dedicated to helping Washington communities and tribes identify and obtain the resources they need to develop, improve, and maintain infrastructure.
IACC helps improve the delivery of infrastructure assistance by keeping its members—state and federal agencies, local government associations, tribes, and other technical nonprofits—informed of changes in infrastructure programs or services and by providing opportunities to network and gain information. One of its main opportunities is an annual statewide conference in October, during which state and federal programs assisting local governments and tribes with infrastructure needs convene to share information about their programs.
IACC also provides ongoing technical assistance to communities and tribes by bringing together the appropriate funding and technical assistance representatives and community members to collaborate on specific projects.
Governor Announces $126 Million in Additional Relief Funds
Governor Jay Inslee announced an additional $126 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) for cities and counties that did not receive direct funding from the federal government under the CARES Act. Governor Inslee also extended the deadline to use these funds to November 30, 2020.
CRF funds provide cities access to reimbursements for unbudgeted, COVID-related expenses incurred after March 27, 2020. A chart with updated allocations from the Department of Commerce is now available. For more information on CRF, be sure to check out the Association of Washington Cities’ recent webinars, particularly the webinar specific to small cities.
Inslee Extends 26 COVID-19-Related Proclamations
On September 2, Governor Inslee announced the extension of 26 proclamations made in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, including extensions related to the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).
The OPMA-related proclamation extends the prohibition on conducting in-person public meetings through October 1, 2020, as approved by state legislative leaders. Local government must provide a call-in phone number, as a minimum, so everyone can hear the meeting, with video or other internet-based streaming also allowed.
Phase 3 communities can opt to allow for in-person meetings in addition to the required remote meetings with telephone access, provided all aspects of the proclamation are met, including 6 feet of physical separation between attendees, compliance with facial covering requirements, and a ten-person maximum limit. If a jurisdiction can’t meet these in-person meeting requirements, the meeting must be adjourned or continued virtually until they can be met.
State Releases Quarterly Economic and Revenue Forecast Report
The State’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council issued its June 2020 Economic and Revenue Forecast quarterly report. Here are a few of the highlights:
- State General Fund revenue collections since the February forecast are 11.1 percent below the forecasted amount, although half of the shortfall is due to deferred payment of Revenue Act and property taxes that will still be received during the current biennium.
- Gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2020 is -6.1 percent.
- Forecasts in GDP growth for 2021 through 2024 are up from previous forecasts.
- The decline in Washington employment in April was unprecedented, and unemployment reached an all-time high.
The state also issued its August 2020 Economic and Revenue update. Highlights include:
- Employment recovered in June and July.
- Transportation exports (mostly Boeing) fell 83.7 percent.
- U.S. employment increased by 1.8 million jobs in July, and the unemployment rate declined to 10.2 percent.
For local governments trying to understand what the pandemic means for their revenue forecasts, the Municipal Research and Services Center has guidance on where to find good data in a non-traditional year.
Take One Minute and Take the Washington State Broadband Survey
The Washington State Broadband Office and state Public Works Board have launched a mapping initiative to identify gaps in high-speed internet service and areas of broadband infrastructure needs to advance the state’s goal of universal broadband access in Washington by 2024.
The first step is to complete a quick access and speed survey, which can be done on any computer or mobile device.
The data gathered through the survey will provide validated information for use by any community for broadband expansion projects. It will also support pursuit of grant funding available from the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state programs such as Public Works Board and Community Economic Revitalization Board broadband financing.
Commerce Department Providing Free, Temporary Internet Access
The Washington State Department of Commerce is providing free, temporary internet access at drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots around the state in response to the impacts of COVID-19
These hotspots provide free, temporary emergency internet access for Washingtonians who do not have broadband service to their homes. Access is available to all residents, with specific emphasis on remote learning for students. This service can also be used for job searches, telehealth, telework, unemployment filing, and census participation.
The locations listed on the hotspots map represent new drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots located at Washington State University extension locations, as well as new and existing Washington State Library hotspots.
Though these hotspots were launched primarily as parking lot hotspots in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the free Wi-Fi is accessible regardless of how users arrive at the locations. Some sites also offer indoor public access during business hours. Everyone using the sites, whether outside or inside, must practice social distancing and proper hygiene precautions, including staying in your vehicle or at least 6 feet from other users and wearing a mask if necessary. Each hotspot will have its own security protocol. Some will be open, and others will have Children’s Internet Protection Act security installed.
Broadband equity is a challenge for many Washington State communities. Commerce’s drive-in Wi-Fi hotspot project addresses underserved and economically-disadvantaged communities in urban and suburban areas.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | July 14, 2020
Thurston County EDC Helps Local Food Hubs Earn USDA Contract
The Thurston County Economic Development Council was instrumental in helping local food hubs navigate the government contracting process, enabling them to win a USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program contract.
The Farmers to Families Food Box Program is purchasing up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products through national, regional and local suppliers that are packaged into family-sized food boxes and transported to food banks, community organizations, and other nonprofit groups serving Americans in need. Thurston County food hubs like Evergreen United were eligible to bid on the contract—if they could just figure out how.
The federal contracting process is long and complex, and with only a week to apply, timing was of the essence. Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of the Thurston Economic Development Council’s Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). PTAC is just one of many throughout the nation, all with the same mission.
In all, 10 Washington state firms were awarded contracts. PTAC was able to directly assist Evergreen United, the Puget Sound Food Hub, and LINC Foods in Spokane obtain contracts.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | June 2, 2020
The Municipal Research Services Center has shared information and guidance for cities and counties looking to access $300 million in federal CARES Act funds being distributed by the State of Washington.
The CARES Act directly distributed funds to local governments with population above 500,000; funds for local governments that fall below this population threshold are being distributed via the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce. The state is distributing funds using a per-capita formula, with a minimum distribution of $250,000 for counties and $25,000 for cities and towns.
Unofficial forecasts from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) show that the State of Washington could be facing a $7 billion reduction in projected state revenues through mid-2023.
The ERFC is charged with providing the state budget outlook and, four times each year, adopting a bipartisan revenue forecast, from which the state operating budget is built. The ERFC also creates monthly economic and revenue updates that report on national and Washington State information related to economic activity, employment, and revenue projections by source.
Organizations around the Pacific Northwest are finding creative and innovative ways to support their communities during this time of economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority in Northcentral Washington State has developed two programs to assist the smallest businesses as they maintain operations during the pandemic and prepare for the return of “business as usual.”
Through its Rent Participation Program, the port will provide a qualifying small business with up to $1,000 in rent payment assistance if the business, landlord, and port agree to each contribute one-third of the total rent payment.
The port’s second program, the Getting Ready to Reopen Fund, allows a qualifying business to request up to $1,000 in reimbursed costs. Costs must be related to complying with proper health protocols for reopening. These could include purchase of masks, thermometers, sanitation supplies, and signage; installation of plexiglass shields; and marketing and/or advertising expenses.
These programs are available to qualifying businesses across Chelan and Douglas counties, and are a great example of local programs making a big difference in Northwest communities. Visit www.cdrpa.org/covid19-small-business-support-initiative for more information on this program and the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | May 14, 2020
Discussions around the possibility of a special legislative session continue. The session likely would focus on handling COVID-19-related budget impacts for state and local governments. Statewide organizations and associations are preparing to advocate for a wide variety of community assistance and economic recovery programs, including investment in public infrastructure projects. This proven economic stimulus method has a positive economic multiplier that creates family-wage jobs and supports increased economic activity.
Gov. Inslee announced April 27 that nearly $300 million of the state’s federal stimulus funding will be awarded to local governments that did not receive direct distributions under the CARES Act. Funds will be provided to cities and counties that were ineligible to receive direct funding under the CARES Act because their populations number below 500,000.
The governor’s news release indicated that the state would distribute a minimum of $250,000 to each county and a minimum of $25,000 to each city. Specific allocations can be found here.
Funds can be used to cover critical, COVID-19-related expenses, such as isolation and quarantine sites, staffing, and purchase of medical supplies and equipment for health care providers and first responders.
Gov. Inslee has established three Safe Start community advisory groups that will work in tandem with ongoing efforts to ensure that Washington State can reopen safely for everyone. One of these advisory groups, led by Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown, will be focused on “Safe Work and Economic Recovery.”
The Department of Commerce is distributing CARES Act funding via Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs. These funds are currently targeted for back rental and utility payments and emergency homeless shelters. CARES Act funding through CDBG programs is not currently being directed toward more typical, ongoing public health efforts.
The Association of Washington Cities, the Washington State Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and other local government associations are advocating for direct federal support to local governments with populations below 500,000 as part of the next phase of the federal stimulus package.