Please submit all final applications through the online platform. Paper copies will not be accepted. If you need help, please contact any OIS staff member. Contact information is at the bottom of this page.
*To begin the application, please create a new user account by clicking the "Login" button above and then clicking on "Click Here to create a new profile." Choose the profile type, “organization” in the account creation page.
Application OverviewThe Only in Seattle Initiative provides grant funding and staff support to foster inclusive neighborhood business districts that allow small businesses to thrive. The Initiative focuses on supporting businesses and property owners to organize around a common vision for their district and attract investment. Participating districts start by developing a strategic vision, creating an action plan, and determining clear outcomes and leads, and getting to work. From new crosswalks, murals, and lighting improvements, to business coaching, community festivals, and litter cleanup, Seattle's business districts have used Only in Seattle resources to develop a vision and put their vision into action.
The Only in Seattle Initiative is a partnership between OED, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Approximately $1,400,000 is available (contingent upon federal and City funding allocations) for district grants and services that accomplish goals in the five strategy areas:
1. Organization - Neighborhood organizations, residents, property owners and business owners collaborate and work together toward a common vision for the business district.
2. Marketing & Promotion - District has a positive, consistent image that helps draw more customers to visit.
3. Business and Retail Development - Businesses prosper because they are organized, supported by the community and they receive the assistance they need to strengthen and grow their business. New businesses move into the district that complement and improve the business mix.
4. Placemaking - The physical environment of a commercial node is attractive, inviting and easily accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Real estate development involves community input and vision, and redevelopment helps to rehabilitate or replace vacant or underutilized spaces. Projects in this category generate a sense of forward momentum and improvement in the district.
5. Clean & Safe – The district is clean and customers, employees and visitors feel safe and welcome.
Investment TiersThis initiative provides seed funding and support that can help a business district move ahead of its current state to a new level of organization and operations. Participating districts develop a strategic vision of where they want to be, an action plan to achieve that vision and clear outcomes that are intended from the work. Districts can apply for any of the following tiers for which they qualify. However, priority for Tiers II - V is given to districts that have or are developing action plans.
Tier I: Action Plan Grants. These grants fall into three categories, based on the district's work:
Organizing – For districts working on organizing (or reorganizing) stakeholders in the district to develop a shared vision and create a new action plan. Grants are generally for consultants and/or staff to conduct outreach, facilitate planning meetings, develop a plan and complete early projects that build momentum.
Transforming - For districts with a new action plan beginning implementation. The grants are given to a lead agency that serves as the central hub for the vision and action plan and coordinates implementation and communication with and between all participating parties. Grants can cover staff, project costs, consulting, etc.
Established - For districts with an established action plan and ongoing implementation that have a key project that will help grow the district’s work. Grants can cover staff, project costs, consulting, etc.
Tier II: Business Improvement Areas Consultation
Tier II is intended for commercial districts that are seeking assistance in forming a Business Improvement Area (BIA), modifying an existing BIA’s boundaries or rate payment structure, or exploring the feasibility of a BIA. Districts receive consulting services to guide them through the steps from feasibility analysis to the legislative process.
Tier III: Racial Equity in Business Districts
In this tier, you can apply to receive training and support to better serve under-represented businesses and business of color in your district. This includes participating in a training cohort with other districts and access to the Department of Neighborhood’s Community Liaison program. The program hires liaisons who share language, culture, ethnicity, or other demographics with local business owners to provide a bridge of communication and understanding between the businesses and the local organization. These liaisons can do outreach, conduct surveys, help facilitate focus groups, etc. in close partnership with the local organization.
Tier IV: Mobile Business Consulting
Mobile Business Consulting brings OED's business consulting, financing and problem solving services directly to neighborhood businesses. OED will work with the business district organization to conduct outreach to businesses and schedule individual appointments with the consultants. Based on identified interests and needs of the businesses, OED will bring the right technical assistance partners to the meeting and small businesses can connect with several providers at the same time and location.
Tier V: City Infrastructure/Public Space Improvements
OED has $370,000 available for projects that enhance public spaces within business districts. Eligible neighborhood business districts include those that have one or more of the following attributes: paid on-street parking; a majority of low-moderate income residents; and/or significant impacts from construction. Tier V projects include design, cost estimating, construction and/or activation of improvements and amenities in parks and public right of way. Projects are often completed directly by the Seattle Department of Transportation but can also result in a grant to the business district to hire consultants and contractors.
• September 30, 2017, 9:00 am: Request for Applications and program description released
• October 13, 2:00 PM: Grant Information Session - Register here
• October 30, 2017, 9:00 am: Application deadline
• November 8, 9, 13, 2017: Presentations to Only in Seattle Review Committee. To select preferred dates/times for your district to present, please visit our Doodle Poll.
• December 2017: Notification of funding decision
Contracting ProcessGrantees selected through this application process will receive a one-year investment commitment for 2018 with the potential for investment in upcoming years. Each year the investments are contingent upon the availability of funds for this program and the grantee’s satisfactory progress on activities during the previous year(s).
2018 contracts need to be completed and signed before work is eligible for reimbursement. Contracts can be developed immediately after investment notifications in December. Contracts can no longer be back-dated. The contract will include specific activities, milestones and a budget based on an action plan that is accepted by OED and the district.
Program RequirementsTarget Area - Business districts need clearly defined geographic boundaries that will be the focus of the work.
Coordination – If multiple organizations are working together, there must be a clear plan for coordination, with one organization or individual identified as the lead for overseeing the implementation of the action plan.
Strong Stakeholder Participation – While the activities are overseen by a local lead organization or individual, no one agency can do everything. Public agencies, nonprofit organizations, area residents, businesses and property owners must share investments in and responsibility for strengthening their neighborhoods. Action plans must be developed with the input and involvement of key stakeholders and each component of the plan must identify the organizations, staff or volunteers identified to take responsibility for ensuring implementation.
Impact and Long Term Sustainability - The action plans should be focused on making an immediate impact in the district and developing infrastructure that will allow the work to be sustainable over time.
Investment - OED will make an investment of grant dollars, technical assistance, training resources and staff time in each participating business district. The grant funding can reimburse operating and direct costs incurred by the lead agencies and other agencies submitting joint proposals. This can include staff costs, supplies, marketing, etc. Funding can also be used for physical improvement projects such as business district beautification.
One Proposal Per Business District - As mentioned above, efforts in the district should be coordinated among community stakeholders. Therefore, we only want to receive one application from each commercial district. If we receive multiple applications from different groups in a district that are either unaware of each other’s work or are competing for the grant, we will require that the groups work together to develop shared priorities. The application can include funding for multiple agencies and the lead agency or individual will be responsible for coordinating the work of organizations involved.
Funding Requirements - A majority of funding for this program is federal – Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Business districts receiving federal funds will need to be located in primarily residential (as opposed to primarily industrial) areas with over 51% of low-moderate income residents served by the district. Business districts that do not meet this requirement can still be eligible to receive City General Funds.
Neighborhoods Qualifying for Federal Funds - Business districts within the following neighborhoods would potentially qualify for the federal funding: Central Area, Rainier Valley, Chinatown International District and Little Saigon, Capitol Hill, White Center, South Park, Pioneer Square, Delridge, University District and Lake City. Federal funding eligibility will need to be determined for each proposal.
Program ContactsTheresa Barreras, Business Districts Manager
Heidi Hall, Business Districts Advocate
Mikel Davila, Business Districts Advocate