10c. Memo

Community Business Connector Initiative

AGENDA MEMORANDUM                        Item No.          10c 
ACTION ITEM                            Date of Meeting        July 12, 2022 
DATE:     June 30, 2022 
TO:        Stephen P. Metruck, Executive Director 
FROM:    Dave McFadden, Managing Director, Economic Development Division 
Annie Tran, Program Manager, Economic Development 
SUBJECT:  Community Business Connectors Initiative Authorization 
Total contract request:         $650,000 

Request Commission authorization for the Executive Director to execute a joint partnership
agreement with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber, a non-profit agency, to develop and pilot a
Community Business Connector initiative for two years at a cost not to exceed $650,000 and 
that the commission determine a competitive process is not appropriate or cost effective and
exempt this contract from a competitive process consistent with RCW 53.19.020. 
To support an equitable economic recovery, The Port of Seattle and the Seattle Metro Chamber
of Commerce have been working on a new Community Business Connector Initiative (CBC) to
make sure small businesses get the help they need to rebound from the lingering pandemic. 
Companies owned by women and people of color have been far less likely to benefit from these
resources due to a wide variety of barriers, including awareness, experience accessing
government programs, and language barriers. These firms have had to shut down, lose sales
and employees, and have struggled to implement changing health and safety regulations.
While programs like the Paycheck Protection Program have been helpful, there is evidence that
women, BIPOC, and underserved businesses have had difficulty accessing these and other relief
The CBC would fund a business outreach team that can ensure small businesses have access to 
available resources that can help them sustain and grow their enterprises. There are significant
state and federal resources currently available to support business recovery and the outreach
team will help make sure these resources are accessed by all communities.

            COMMISSION AGENDA – Action Item No. 10c                                 Page 2  of 7
Meeting Date: July 12, 2022 
Over the last two years, the Port has worked aggressively with city grant partners and other
stakeholders to provide relief and assistance to the region’s small business community.  The
COVID pandemic shut many businesses down and impacted many others as health-related
regulations were implemented.
Thousands of businesses received grants and other forms of help as a result of these
unprecedented outreach efforts.  For example, the Port’s city grant partners provided over
3,400 grants worth over $16 million to small businesses (and some nonprofits).  While these
efforts helped keep many merchant doors open, the pandemic’s long-lasting and lingering
efforts are still challenging.
The Port conducted a business survey available in 15 languages and opened the survey period
for six-weeks between April 22-June 3. Additionally, the Port contracted with 10 communitybased
organizations to target the survey efforts across BIPOC businesses to understand how
businesses are doing after two years of the pandemic. In total, the Port received 318 surveys
returned in nine languages. Largely, the surveys came from businesses representing South King
County and East King County. 
Results from the survey effort clearly show that small businesses are still facing challenges and
need help: 
• Forty-seven percent of businesses are doing worse compared to a year ago 
• Only eighteen percent of businesses are doing better compared to a year ago 
• Business report that loss of business, not enough customers, and reduced income or
unemployment are among their top challenges 
• Businesses need help applying for financial assistance, marketing and advertising, and
increasing sales. Notably, fifty-four respondents reported needing help with pursuing
government contracting opportunities. 
• Seventy  percent  of businesses surveyed  indicated they would use a community
connector resource if it was available in their preferred language.
The proposed agreement with the Seattle Metro Chamber is to implement a Community
Business Connector initiative that would fund and support 10-15+ “Connectors” across King
County to help impacted small businesses connect to critical help and resources they need to
survive (see graphic below).

            COMMISSION AGENDA – Action Item No. 10c                                 Page 3  of 7
Meeting Date: July 12, 2022 

Small Business
Development Centers
How Can I Help?
Community Development
Josephina from Burien needs                 Sideen ku caawin karaa?
a working capital loan to fully                                                                 Lending Ins�tu�ons
reopen her catering company                   Cómo puedo ayudar?
Federal ARRA Recovery
Paano Ko KayoMatutulungan?          Funding
Assad needs city permi�ng                                                                   Banks and other lenders
assistance to support his
retail clothing store in Kent
Minority Business
Development Centers
Chambers of Commerce
Joe and Tina need help to grow                                                                and Neighborhood
online sales for their wine
bar/bistro café in North Bend                                                                  Business Districts
SCORE, Startup 425 and
other business advisors
Benjie needs to hire employees
and secure funding to support                                                                 Workforce Training and
his metal fab shop in Shoreline                                                                Placement Partners

Staff recently conducted market research and confirmed that the Seattle Metro Chamber is the
only Associate Development Organization (ADO) of King County.  The Port wants to partner
with the Chamber on a regional business assistance initiative and in a manner that is consistent
with the Chamber’s responsibilities as the region’s ADO. By partnering with the Chamber, the
Port can leverage its funding and tap into a broad and unique network of expertise that can be
tapped to support BIPOC businesses and other firms that have been impacted by the pandemic. 
Under RCW 43.330.080, the State’s Department of Commerce contracts with ADOs like the
Chamber to provide: D irect assistance, including business planning, to companies throughout
the county who need support to stay in business, expand, or relocate to Washington from out
of state or other countries.
This assistance includes 
“working with the appropriate partners throughout the county including, but not limited
to, local governments, workforce development councils, port districts, community and
technical colleges and higher education institutions, export assistance providers, impact
Washington, the Washington state quality award council, small business assistance
programs, innovation partnership zones, and other federal, state, and local programs to
facilitate the alignment of planning efforts and the seamless delivery of business
support services within the entire county;” 
King County has designated the Seattle Metro Chamber as the region’s Associate Development
Organization. The County passes through state funding to support the Chamber’s work as the
ADO. King County has augmented these state funds with its own recovery funds to further

            COMMISSION AGENDA – Action Item No. 10c                                 Page 4  of 7
Meeting Date: July 12, 2022 
underwrite and support the Chamber’s broad efforts to help impacted businesses across the
Additionally, the Seattle Metro Chamber has a proven track record for successfully responding
to pandemic related recovery the last two-years: 
• 2020: Processed 185 small business grants, totaling $1.09 million, for economic recovery
and employee health and safety 
• 2020: Distributed over 2.5 million masks and face coverings 
• 2021: Connected 72 small businesses with pro bono CPA assistance, including 20
businesses through the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, so they could apply for
the Paycheck Protection Program and the Employee Retention Tax Credit 
• Fall 2021-Spring 2022: Partnered with Public-Health Seattle-King County on the awardwinning
#KCVaxVerified  campaign,  providing  free information  on  King  County’s
vaccination verification requirement to 10,000 affected businesses in 21 languages, with
a 92% estimated compliance rate 
While there are many partners across King County that provide services to small businesses,
there is no organization that can broadly deliver the range of small business resources
contemplated by the new CBC initiative. To leverage the Port’s funding and interest in helping
small business, staff are  recommending to contract with the Seattle Metro Chamber to
implement this new small business initiative.

Scope of Work 
The agreement will support the following scope of work: 
• Develop Request for Proposals to Select Community Business Connectors 
• Contract with eight to ten Community Business Connectors who can help BIPOC and 
underserved businesses (especially those facing language or cultural barriers) to access 
helpful resources 
• Provide  orientation  and  technical  assistance  surrounding  RFP  to  applicants  and 
• Provide  orientation  and  ongoing  training  to  selected  “Connectors”  on  resources 
available, business assistance partners, reporting requirements and program protocols 
• Develop web backbone to support “Connectors” and collect data on clients served, 
client issues, referrals made, etc. 
• Secure other public and private funding to support, grow and sustain Community 
Connector initiative 
• Provide evaluative reports on program highlighting successes, outcomes, challenges and 
lessons learned

            COMMISSION AGENDA – Action Item No. 10c                                 Page 5  of 7
Meeting Date: July 12, 2022 
The Port and Chamber have done extensive community engagement surrounding this initiative.
In 2021, we convened multiple meetings with City partners to discuss this initiative and flesh 
out how it would work best in King County. The initiative to hire Community Connectors grew 
out  of  a  regional  conversation  surrounding  the  Small  Business  Administration’s  (SBA) 
Community Navigator Pilot program. The SBA announced they would provide $100 million to 
support outreach to businesses and it triggered substantial interest in Washington State. 
Several groups including the State Department of Commerce, the African Chamber, and a 
consortium of local cities/nonprofits all applied for the SBA Navigator program. None of these 
grant proposals were successful, but the exercise energized partners and we agreed to explore 
whether a navigator type initiative could nonetheless work regionally without SBA funding.
Meetings with city partners helped flesh out a workable funding model and key program 
details.  Chamber and Port staff made presentations about the proposed Community Business 
Connectors initiative to city councils (ex. Highline Forum), community groups (ex. Eastside for 
All), the Sound Cities’ Board and its committee of City managers/administrators.
In addition to this outreach, the Chamber and Port formed an ad hoc advisory group earlier this 
year comprised of 25+ members from Chambers, community-based organizations, Community 
Development  Finance  Institutions,  city  partners,  and  Small  Business  Development  Center 
partners.   This group helped guide overall program development and supported additional 
community engagement.
To make sure we got strong feedback from ethnic and underserved businesses, we contracted 
with 10 community-based organizations to survey small businesses in their communities. These 
partners  have  surveyed  318  businesses  and  given  us  some  outstanding  insights  on  how 
businesses are doing and where they need help. 
These survey efforts were complemented by hosting three listening sessions where ethnic and 
rural businesses provided input on how they are doing and where they need help.
Both the survey effort and the listening sessions have helped inform design of the CBC 
initiative.  The Chamber is planning to implement the CBC initiative on the following schedule: 
Task                                    Timeline 
Develop RFP for Community Connectors            June/July 
Release RFP                                       August 
Application Workshops and Technical Assistance    August/September 
RFP Due                                        September 
Select Community Connectors                     October 
Contracting with Connectors                       October

            COMMISSION AGENDA – Action Item No. 10c                                 Page 6  of 7
Meeting Date: July 12, 2022 
Orientation/Training for Connectors                November 
Launch                                            November/December 
The CBC program will be jointly funded by Port of Seattle, King County, Seattle Metropolitan
Chamber of Commerce, city partners, and several partners yet to be determined. In the first
year, the Port of Seattle plans to fund $300,000 to help stand up the new program. The Seattle
Chamber will allocate $380,000 of its King County COVID-19 Local Recovery Funds towards this
initiative. In addition, interested city partners are dedicating an estimated $30,000. 
In year two, the Port will plan to support $350,000 to help maintain and add capacity by hiring 
three additional business connectors. The Seattle Chamber will dedicate an additional $90,000.
There is also an estimated $325,000 funded by cities and undetermined partners at this time. 

Alternative 1) Do not authorize agreement with Chamber of Commerce 
1.  Reduces specific budget request by up to $325,000 a year, which could be used for
other initiatives 
2.  Provides additional time to weigh options for implementing navigator type partnership 
1.  Momentum around Community Business Connector initiative lost 
2.  Outreach and assistance to small businesses could be lost 
3.  Opportunity to support and grow BIPOC and underserved businesses diminished 
This is not the recommended alternative.

            COMMISSION AGENDA – Action Item No. 10c                                 Page 7  of 7
Meeting Date: July 12, 2022 

Alternative 2) – Authorize $650,000 agreement with Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce to
implement Community Business Connector initiative over a two-year period. 
1.  This new agreement will reinforce the Port of Seattle’s commitment to small business
relief and recovery 
2.  Advancing a Community Business Connector initiative provides outreach and help at a
time when businesses are still struggling 
3.  Port  financial  investments  in  the  Community  Business  Connector  initiative  will  be
leveraged by other public and private members and sponsors 
1.  More time evaluating Community Business Connector options could be helpful.  Other
partners (WA Department of Commerce, Small Business Development Centers) also
have resources that could support Community Business Connector initiative 
This is the recommended alternative. 
Cost Estimate/Authorization Summary              Capital        Expense           Total 
Original estimate                                          $0        $650,000        $650,000 
Previous authorizations                                    0                0                0 
Current request for authorization                          0                0                0 
Total authorizations, including this request                  0                0                0 
Remaining amount to be authorized                    $0             $0             $0 
Annual Budget Status and Source of Funds 
Annual budget request is for $650,000. The source of funds is the King County tax levy. 
(1)   Presentation slides 


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