Small Business Capital Access Program

The Seattle Office of Economic Development is investing $8 million of economic recovery funding to connect small businesses to operating capital. The new Capital Access Program will lower the cost of Washington State Small Business Flex Fund loans for eligible small businesses by paying down 25% of the loan principal.  

In collaboration with Community Development Financial Institutions (community lenders), small businesses can borrow up to $150,000 with 4% interest to use on business expenses such as payroll, rent and utilities. Eligible businesses that apply for a Flex Fund loan will also be eligible for additional resources in addition to direct funding through the Capital Access Program, including financial counseling, technical assistance and connection to community-based resources.  

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Small Business Capital Access Program, small businesses need to:

  • Be a for-profit small business located within the Seattle city limits.
  • Have experienced direct economic disruption due to COVID-19.
  • Meet at least two of the following three factors:
    • No more than $5 million in annual revenue in 2019 or 2020.
    • No more than 50 full-time equivalent employees.
    • No more than two locations.

Application opens on March 8, 2022, and closes on April 8, 2022, at 5 p.m.

To apply for the City’s Capital Access Program, eligible small businesses must submit a Flex Fund application online at smallbusinessflexfund.org/seattle. Applications open on March 8, 2022. The application must be submitted by April 8 at 5 p.m.

Community lenders will review the Flex Fund loan application and evaluate if the small business qualifies for a loan. The City and community lenders will notify all applicants directly of their application status. The City will review applications and will notify applicants if they have been selected to receive funding from the City’s Capital Access Program to be used to pay down their Flex Loan principal by 25%.

Applicants will need to provide the following documentation to the community lender during the application process:

  • Most recent tax returns.
  • Bank statements and financial statements.
  • Information regarding all business owner(s) with more than 20% ownership interest.
  • Brief description of COVID-19 impacts on the business.
  • Evidence of legal formation of business entity (for example, articles of incorporation and bylaws).
  • Other documentation required by the lender at or after the time of the application.

Information and application assistance is available in multiple languages, including Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese. Virtual information sessions, video tutorials, Frequently Asked Questions as well as individual support will be available to assist small businesses throughout the application process. To access this support, please contact Business Impact NW at (206) 339-6588.

Businesses can request support from the Office of Economic Development such as language access services, disability accommodations, materials in alternate formats and accessibility information by calling (206) 684-8090 or emailing oed@seattle.gov.

Join the Office of Economic Development and Business Impact NW Flex Fund business advisors for virtual information sessions that will explain loan details, eligibility, how to apply, resources to assist with the process and answer individual questions. Please register two weeks in advance for bilingual interpretation support.

  • March 3, 2:30-3:30 p.m. This virtual session is available in English and Spanish. To register, please visit this registration link.
  • March 17, 2:30-3:30 p.m. To register, please visit this registration link.
  • March 28, 2:30-3:30 p.m. To register, please visit this registration link.

Applications for the Capital Access Program open on March 8, 2022. Community lender partners will review the Flex Fund loan applications and directly notify small businesses of their application status as they are received. The community lenders will determine if small businesses qualify for a loan and the amount of the loan based on financing need and ability to repay the loan. The City’s funding support will be determined later and is projected to amount to 25% of each selected businesses’ approved loan amount.

The application period for the Capital Access Program ends on April 8, 2022, at 5 p.m. To ensure all eligible small businesses have time to apply for the City’s funding support, the Office of Economic Development will conduct a random selection process after applications close. All eligible small businesses who submit their Flex Fund application before the deadline will be considered first for the City’s funding support. Businesses with an existing Flex Fund loan will be evaluated after new applicants.

To support small businesses that are more likely to have experienced the greatest economic impacts, the Office of Economic Development will ensure that priority is given to businesses from the following underserved communities:

  • Small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).
  • Woman-owned small business.
  • Small businesses located in a highly distressed census tract with a minimum of 30% poverty or not exceeding 60% median income.
    • Note: These areas meet the definition of “low-income communities” (LICs) by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Small Business Administration has prioritized low-income communities for COVID relief financing.

Note: Office of Economic Development staff may contact you via phone with an area code of 206 or email ending in @seattle.gov. Businesses can verify the identity of the staff by calling our office at (206) 684-8090 or visiting our staff directory page on our website.

1. Is the Flex Fund loan forgivable?

Supported by the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Small Business Flex Fund is NOT a forgivable loan unless the business qualifies for City funding support. The Office of Economic Development’s Capital Access Program will provide funding equal to 25% of the principal amount of a Flex Fund loan which will be used to reduce the outstanding principal amount of the Flex Fund loan after 12 months of on-time interest payments.

After City funding has been applied to reduce the outstanding principal balance of the Flex Fund loan, the business borrower will need to repay the remaining amount of the loan with interest over a 5-year term. The business borrower will pay interest on the full amount of the Flex Fund loan for the first 12 months before the funding is applied.

The Flex Fund is not associated with the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or any other Small Business Administration (SBA) program.

2. What are the terms of the Flex Fund loans?

  • Small businesses may borrow up to $150,000.
  • Loans have a 4% interest and interest-only payments for the initial year.
  • Loans have a five-year term.

3. What can I use the loan for?

Flex Fund loans can be used for a full range of business operating needs such as payroll, rent, utilities, supplies and other day-to-day expenses.

4. How long will it take to complete the loan review and approval process?

We are unable to predict how long it will take to complete the loan approval process at this time. To receive updates about the program, please subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media: @SeattleEconomy on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.  

5. What happens if I don’t qualify for a loan?

The Office of Economic Development encourages all applicants who meet the eligibility requirements listed above to apply. Community lenders have more flexibility in evaluating loan requests compared to other banks or conventional lenders. However, there may be circumstances where a small business does not qualify for a Flex Fund loan. If your small business does not qualify for a loan, you will be automatically connected to one of the program’s technical assistance providers to determine if you qualify for additional financing options from the City.

6. Who are the participating Community Development Financial Institutions?

The Office of Economic Development is collaborating with various local Community Development Financial Institutions for the Capital Access Program, including Ascendus, Business Impact NW, Craft3, Evergreen Business Capital, National Development Council, O Bee Credit Union, Rainier Valley Community Development Fund and Ventures.

7. Can nonprofits apply for this funding?

Nonprofits can apply for the Washington State Flex Fund loans. However, only for-profit small businesses who meet the eligibility requirements listed above are eligible for the City’s Capital Access Program funding.

8. Where does the funding come from for the Capital Access Program?

The funding for the Capital Access Program is from two sources: The Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLFR) established under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and City Council’s adoption of the Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force recommendations (ECI).  

The Seattle Office of Economic Development is committed to building an equitable and inclusive economy that benefits the whole city by promoting access to economic opportunities for all of Seattle’s diverse communities.

The City of Seattle encourages everyone to participate in its programs and activities. For additional questions, translation or interpretation, technical assistance, disability accommodations, materials in alternate formats or accessibility information, please contact the Office of Economic Development at (206) 684-8090 or oed@seattle.gov.