SEATTLE — Some empty storefronts in downtown Seattle are about to get a big makeover.
It is all a part of the city’s new program that launched Saturday, which is aimed at encouraging safety in the downtown core and supporting small businesses.
Mayor Bruce Harrell said it is part of his public safety plan.
“I’ve had this dream of this type of space, a healing space for the community for about three years. And I’ve been applying to grants and trying to get funding, but, of course, it takes someone to believe in your dream,” said Sierra Jones.
On Saturday, Sierra opened up her self-care studio called “Inside,” and it was paid for by Seattle Restored.
It is a new program by the city’s Office of Economic Development with the support of Harrell.
The city is using local and federal funds, including money from the American Rescue Plan, which is all to help small businesses open up.
“I think our small business communities are sort-of like the last line of defense, so to speak,” Harrell said. “That we employ from our own communities, we’re giving our communities jobs, we’re recycling tourist dollars. Quite frankly, it’s like Commerce 101. And we are using an investment strategy and a public safety strategy to make sure we support this kind of effort.”
Part of making sure public safety is at the forefront is occupying vacant properties from Belltown to the Chinatown-International District.
Each business gets $2,500 to help set up its space. The program also connects small business owners with property owners specifically.
And in a city full of corporations, Jones said it is help she never knew was possible.
“Like our space, paid for while we’re there. That is just unheard of. And it’s a foot forward that we wouldn’t have been able to have,” Jones said.
The mayor said, “We’re going to make sure access to capital is achievable for small businesses. Our job is also to make sure the streets are safe. To make sure that people can get to and from.”
Hundreds applied to the program but only 30 small businesses were chosen.
Harrell said the city will continue helping small businesses open across downtown for the rest of the year.
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