About Only in Seattle Initiative


The Only in Seattle Initiative resources community stakeholders, business and property owners, and local organizations to implement activities in five key areas that help achieve economic development outcomes determined by the community. The Initiative has found success building well-organized districts by providing seed funding and support to help a district build organizational capacity to implement strategies that support the community's vision. Participating districts start by developing a strategic vision, creating an action plan, and determining clear outcomes and leads, and getting to work.he Only in Seattle Initiative empowers neighborhood business districts to organize around a common vision and attract investment. 


Learn more about the Only in Seattle Initiative and Explore Business District Wins (coming soon) for highlights of the Initiative at work in Seattle's business districts. 


The Only in Seattle Initiative is a partnership between OED, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON), and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture (OAC). 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 & Events - District has a positive, consistent image that helps draw more customers to visit. 

3. Business 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 retail and pedestrian environment is attractive, inviting and easily accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Real estate projects that rehabilitate or replace vacant or underutilized spaces 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 Tiers

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 - VI 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 

OED and the Department of Neighborhoods are partnering to offer "Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons" (POELs) 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: 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: Consultation to Enhance Arts & Culture 

OED and the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS) are offering technical assistance to business districts interested in strengthening their connection to arts and culture in their district. The goal of this partnership is to infuse art and culture into more projects in business districts throughout the city. OED and ARTS will bring business district leaders and artists/arts organizations/cultural organizations together to explore possibilities for collaboration and learn about resources that could support their ideas. This small step has led several neighborhoods to access new funding sources, integrate arts and culture into events and develop partnerships that extend their capacity. 

Tier VI: City Infrastructure/Public Space Improvements 

OED has available a pool of $370,000 for capital improvement projects that enhance business districts. Eligible neighborhood business districts include those that have: paid on-street parking; a majority of low-moderate income residents; and/or significant impacts from construction. Tier VI projects include design, cost estimating and construction of infrastructure and amenities in parks and in the 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. 

Application Timeline 

  • October 1: Request for Applications and program description released.
  • October 31: Application deadline
  • Early November: Presentations to Only in Seattle Review Committee
  • December 31: Notification of funding decision

Contact Us

Theresa Barreras Heidi Hall Mikel Davila Phillip Sit
Business Districts Advocate Manager Business Districts Advocate Business Districts Advocate Business Improvement Area Advocate
theresa.barreras@seattle.gov heidi.hall@seattle.gov mikel.davila@seattle.gov phillip.sit@seattle.gov
206-684-4505 206-733-9967 206-386-9748 206-256-5137