Margie Haywood called it the kind of gathering her Jefferson Square business Work and Play Lounge “was created for … to bring people together.” This morning, the people brought together at Work and Play Lounge included the mayor of Seattle, a Tacoma city councilmember, the leaders of two regional Chambers of Commerce, the city of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development director, and executives from Comcast – whose small-business-grant program Comcast RISE is what the event was all about.
The grants are for small businesses owned by women and/or people of color. Haywood’s business – whose opening we covered last year – was one of 100 regionally receiving $10,000 each in the last round, and now it’s almost time for a new round of applications. That was explained in a series of speeches, including Haywood’s account of how the no-strings-attached grant may have saved her business, which is now about to expand and add a Queen Anne location.
Haywood also spoke of overcoming “outrageous barriers” and described the joy she felt at news of the grant, “the first money I ever received from any institution.” OED director Markham McIntyre (at right in group photo) noted that “access to capital” is a top concern for entrepreneurs. Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce CEO Rachel Smith (left in photo) said women- and POC-owned businesses had been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, so grants like this can be a lifeline. Tacoma Councilmember Keith Blocker (third from left in photo) agreed, “Our shared goal is to help these businesses.”
Comcast vice president for external affairs Marianne Bichsel (third from right) concluded with details on the application process for the next round of grants: They’ll accept applications October 3rd (next Monday) through October 16th. You can find eligibility and application info here. This is one of five metro areas around the country where Comcast is offering the RISE program, which also offers a by-application marketing/tech-resources program. For their purposes, “Seattle” includes King and Pierce counties, which is why Councilmember Blocker and Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber CEO Andrea Reay (second from left) were there too.