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Grants to Seattle, Washington Organizations
for the Revitalization of Business Districts

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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City of Seattle, Office of Economic Development; in partnership with Impact Capital

Deadline Date:

11/03/14 11:59 PM PST


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Grants to Seattle, Washington organizations for projects to cultivate vibrant, financially sound neighborhood business districts. The initiative provides comprehensive, ongoing support to neighborhoods looking to organize members of their business district, attract small business owners, increase foot traffic, promote unique events, and ensure neighborhood cohesion and safety.

Successful neighborhood districts create jobs, spur revitalization efforts, attract new businesses and property owners, and foster a sense of civic pride. The Only in Seattle Initiative is based a set of core building blocks that are the critical components of any successful district. Business districts benefit most from comprehensive approaches that work simultaneously in the following strategy areas:

1) Business Organization - Neighborhood organizations, residents, property owners and business owners collaborate and work together toward a common vision for the neighborhood.

2) 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.

3) Clean and Safe – The district is clean and customers feel safe and welcome.

4) Marketing and Promotion - The district has a positive, consistent image that helps draw more customers to visit it.

5) Appearance and Pedestrian Environment – The retail and pedestrian environment are attractive, inviting and easily accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Catalyst real estate projects rehabilitate or replace vacant or underutilized spaces, generating a sense of forward momentum and improvement in the district.

Investment Tiers:

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 façade improvements and business district beautification.

This 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:

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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: Improving Outreach to Businesses

OED and the Department of Neighborhoods’ Public Outreach and Engagement Liaison (POEL) program are partnering to offer POEL resources to business districts in need of better outreach to under-represented businesses and businesses of color in their districts. 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: Grant for Façade Improvements

Seattle Investment Fund LLC (“LLC”) is a limited liability company established by the City of Seattle to participate in the New Markets Tax Credits (“NMTC”) program. The NMTC program purpose is to assist the economic development of economically distressed neighborhoods. The LLC is working with the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (“OED”) to invest $100,000 in 1-3 neighborhood facade improvement projects in Seattle. Tier IV grants are for design and construction costs to make significant improvements to a building façade along a major commercial corridor in the district.

Tier V: Consultation to Enhance Cultural Place Making

OED and the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS) are offering technical assistance and funding to business districts that have an existing or potentially strong connection to arts and culture as part of the identity of their district. The goal of this partnership is to support or facilitate a connection between artists/arts organizations/cultural organizations and business districts to develop a common vision and plan for enhancing art and culture as a significant identity/component of the neighborhood.

Districts can apply for technical assistance and smART Ventures funding to strengthen a connection with local arts and cultural organizations.

Tier VI: City Infrastructure Improvements

The City of Seattle through the Seattle Department of Transportation has available a pool of $500,000 for capital improvement projects that enhance business districts. Neighborhood business districts that have paid on-street parking are eligible to submit proposals. Tier VI projects include design, cost estimating and construction of infrastructure and amenities in parks and in the public right of way.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 144902

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Term of Contract:

Grants are for one year. 2015 contracts will be developed in January and fully executed by March 31. Contracts can be back-dated to begin January 1.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Program Requirements:

1) Target Area - Business districts need clearly defined geographic boundaries that will be the focus of the work.

2) Lead Agency – There must be one organization identified as the lead for managing the implementation of the action plan.

3) Strong Stakeholder Participation – While the activities are led by a local lead organization, 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.

4) 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.

5) One Proposal Per Business District - Efforts in the district should be coordinated among community stakeholders. Therefore, we will only accept one application from each commercial district. Multiple applications from different potential lead agencies will not be accepted. The application can include funding for multiple agencies; the lead agency will be responsible for managing the overall contract and will be responsible for managing sub-contracts to other organizations utilizing funding from this program.

6) 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.

7) 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.

Pre-Application Information:

The program overview may be found here:

The FAQs may be found here:

Please submit all final applications through the online platform:

Application Timeline:
-October 6, 2014: Request for Proposals and program description released.
-November 3, 2014, 11:59 PM: Application deadline
-November 14, 17,18, 2014: Presentations to Only in Seattle Review Committee
-December 31, 2014: Notification of funding decision. (Tier VI decisions may extend into 2015.)

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Theresa Barreras

Seattle City Hall
600 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98104

Grant Coverage Areas:

City of Seattle

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Washington

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