Technical Assistance

Workforce Development

Many small businesses have trouble finding the skilled workers they need to make their business thrive. OED partners with both the Seattle Jobs Initiative and the Seattle-King County Workforce Development Council to provide training and job placement services.

For additional assistance contact:

Matthew Houghton, Workforce Development Manager
matthew.houghton@seattle.gov
206-684-3978

Licensing, Permits & Taxes

Business License

Everyone doing business in the City of Seattle must obtain and annually renew a business license. If you're doing business at several locations in the City, you'll need a separate license for each venue.

King County does not require a general business license. However, all businesses operating in the State of Washington must obtain a Washington State Master Business License to register their business for state tax purposes.

Building Permits

To get a building permit, contact the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) - the agency charged with developing, administering and enforcing standards for land use, design, construction and housing within the city limits. First, you'll want to find out relevant policies and codes related to environmental protection, development, housing and community standards.

Film Permits

Permits are required for filming city streets, sidewalks, public parking, city parks, and other public property. Film permits are issued by the Mayor's Office of Film + Music.

Taxes

Anyone doing business within the Seattle city limits whose business generates income above a certain level will have to pay a city business tax. The Guide to Seattle's Business License & Taxes provides answers to many questions. However, to find out about your specific circumstances, consult your tax advisor or the Seattle Municipal Code. Code Section 5.40 is Admission Taxes, 5.45 is Business License taxes, 5.52 is Gambling Taxes, 5.60 is Sales and Use Taxes.

Washington State does not have a corporate tax; however, there is a state Business & Occupation Tax. In addition, new and existing manufacturers, research and development firms and certain high technology companies in Washington can benefit from several tax incentives.

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Doing Business with the City of Seattle

City of Seattle's contracting information for Women and Minority Business Owners

  • Contracting opportunities and City and non-City resources on this page provide useful information and connections capable of growing women and minority-owned businesses (WMBE).

The Purchasing and Contracting Services Division (PCSD) of the Department of Executive Administration provides City departments with assistance regarding the purchasing of goods and routine services and the award and execution of public works construction projects.

Women- and minority-owned businesses can apply for certification from the Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises (OMWBE). Certification may help you do business with federal, state, and city agencies as well as private sector entities with Supplier Diversity programs.

Learn about doing business with the City by attending First Friday Drop-In Days.

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Utilities

Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle Public Utilities collects garbage and bills customers on a combined utilities bill. Private recycling companies provide commercial recycling services to most Seattle businesses.

  • For referrals to private providers and help with setting up commercial recycling services, contact Resource Venture
  • Small businesses that generate 96 gallons of garbage or less each week (approximately equivalent to 3 standard 32-gallon garbage cans) may qualify for free recycling through Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light provides electricity to Seattle businesses through energy efficiency programs and services that have been nationally and internationally recognized for innovation and excellence. The utility offers financial incentives and technical assistance to help businesses reduce electricity use and costs.

  • Energy Smart Services offers financial incentives and technical assistance for both existing facilities and new construction projects

Puget Sound Energy

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) provides all natural gas services to Seattle businesses. The utility offers incentive funding for commercial and industrial natural gas customers who install cost-effective, energy-efficient modifications to existing systems.

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Additional Resources

  • The Seattle Business Assistance Center at Community Capital Development (CCD) provides individualized technical and financial assistance, business development and expansion services and policy advice to many businesses that might otherwise have difficulty obtaining conventional bank financing.
  • Seattle Chapter of SCORE is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping small businesses by providing no-fee mentoring and business counseling and low-cost workshops.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers small business loans. Its Seattle district office houses a Business Enterprise Center (BEC) with an extensive resource library and the Seattle Chapter of SCORE. The BEC offers a one-stop location where current and future small business owners can receive assistance and advice.
  • The Business and Economic Development Center (BEDC) at the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business assists inner city small businesses grow, create and retain jobs and contribute to the region's economy.
  • The Washington Technology Center helps Washington companies overcome the technical challenges of product development by linking them with the scientific and engineering resources of the state's universities.
  • The Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA) is a not-for-profit association of Washington state biotechnology and biomedical companies, research firms and related organizations that provides business and economic development information and marketing opportunities for members.

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