Shuttered Venue Operator Grants Opening April 8, 2021


The U.S. Small Business Administration is launching a splash page for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal in anticipation of opening applications for the much-anticipated critical economic relief program on Thursday, April 8, 2021.


Prior to the official SVOG application opening, the SBA will host a national informational webinar to highlight the application process for potential eligible entities from 2:30 to 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Those interested in participating can register here.

Coming soon: America Rescue Plan Act 2021

New information is coming out about the funds that will be available to help small businesses. While we don’t yet have specifics on the grants to come, we do know there will some and we will update with specifics as soon as we get details about them.

One are of particular interest to restaurants is the $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund for 2021 to be administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

  • $5 billion of this will be allocated to restaurants whose gross receipts in 2019 were less than $500,000, and the first 21 days of the program prioritizes small businesses owned by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
  • Public companies, government-managed businesses, entities, and affiliates that have more than 20 locations, and entities that applied for a shuttered venue operator grant (as discussed below) will not qualify.
  • Grant amounts will not exceed a restaurant’s pandemic-related revenue loss (which is measured by the difference between 2020 and 2019 gross receipts) of up to $10 million (with a limit of $5 million per physical location).
  • Grant amounts may be used to cover payroll costs, mortgage payments, rent, utilities, maintenance expenses, operational expenses, paid sick leave, and supplies.
  • Grant amounts received from the restaurant revitalization fund won’t be treated as taxable income, and expenditures paid with such grant amounts will still be deductible.

As soon as we know more about this fund, we will send out an email with details, as well as post all new info here.

Working Washington Grant: Round 4 Application Portal Opens March 29 and closes April 9th at 5 PM!!!

Working Washington Round 4 offers grant relief funds to small for-profit businesses, especially those that were required to close due to public health and safety measures.

Priorities for funding are:

  • For-profit small businesses in industries that have hard costs associated with their operations, and faced the most significant challenges to paying those hard costs because they were required to close.
  • Businesses with lost revenue as a result of closure.
  • Hard costs include but are not limited to rent, utilities, payroll or personal protective equipment. Eligible businesses must operate from a brick-and-mortar location that is separate from their home.
  • Businesses with added expenses to maintain safe operations.
  • Equitable distribution of grant funds across the state and to businesses owned and operated by historically disadvantaged individuals.

Some criteria outline in legislation is:

  • Businesses must apply the grant award toward expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 through June 30th, 2021.
  • Commerce must take into account previous Working Washington awards distributed by the agency or affiliated partners. This means grant awards will vary. The maximum grant award will be $25,000.
  • Grants must be equitably distributed statewide and to historically underserved and disadvantaged populations

Portal Found Here

Update on the start of the WA Legislative Session

(Update from Suzi Levine, Commissioner of the Employment Security Dept)

Helping claimants and imposter fraud victims navigate unemployment benefit related taxes

Annually, we send out 1099 tax forms, as claimants need the data to include in their tax filings. This year, that activity is complicated by both the scale of the crisis as well as the criminal fraud attack. Since November, ESD has been working through a project to make this year’s 1099 process as smooth as possible. By the 15th of January we will be kicking off the mailing of 1.2 million 1099’s in order to meet the required January 31st deadline.

As a part of our efforts, we’ve identified two areas to address:

  1. Raising awareness of tax obligations for those claimants who may not have realized that unemployment benefits are taxable as income.
  2. Making sure that victims of fraud do not receive 1099s since they do not have to pay taxes on fraud in their name.

Especially for the first point, attached, you will find a simple and easy-to-use set of instructions that will be sent to all 1099 recipients, along with their 1099 form. It’s targeted to drive people to a specific website (http://esd.wa.gov/1099), eliminate calls to our call center, and, most importantly, reduce claimant fears. We also have a communication plan that will get information and messages out prior to sending out 1099’s – including this email.

On the second point, we have worked diligently to prevent 1099’s from going to imposter fraud victims and have finished a process that will achieve this. That said, we also know that there will be some individuals who were missed in this process and who will need support to get a corrected 1099.

For those who do call the call center, we will have a recorded message that will point them to the website or, if needed, a special number for 1099 claims. We are also pulling staff from other parts of the agency to help with this short-term bump.

Overall, we are ready, but also know that this has the potential to result in an influx to our call centers. Again, we are operationally preparing for that potential, establishing a team to answer 1099 calls, defining a mechanism to get those calls to that team, and of course, as previously mentioned, driving hard to get people to go to the website we stood up for this purpose www.esd.wa.gov/1099 rather than calling us.

Status of the Continued Assistance Act

As I shared in the past, there are many components to the new federal legislation. Here is a quick progress report on the existing and/or new programs:

  • PUA – benefits for those who typically do not qualify for unemployment
    • Weeks expanded from 39 to 50 – DONE
    • Eligibility extended to March 13th for new claims with an April 10th phaseout for those with benefits still available – DONE
    • PUA Overpayment waivers deployed – IN DESIGN
    • New wage verification requirements for minimum weekly benefits deployed – IN DESIGN
  • FPUC – additional $300 per week benefit enhancement for all unemployment benefit recipients
    • Additional funds rolled out – ON TRACK FOR JAN 15
  • PEUC – extended weeks for UI recipients
    • Weeks expanded from 13 to 24 weeks – IN DESIGN
    • Eligibility extended to March 13th for new claims with an April 10th phaseout for those with benefits still available – DONE
    • Interaction with PUA – IN DESIGN
    • Interaction with EB – IN DESIGN
  • MEUC – Additional funds for those who have non-covered additional income
    • Additional funds rolled out – IN DESIGN

Fundamentally, the UIAC has been a core partner in our efforts and, as we rollout these new provisions, will continue to be a key sounding board and stakeholder.

Benefits Data Dashboard Highlights

Due to the launch of the new federal stimulus and the changes to the systems, some claimant and processing data needs to be adjusted. We will update the dashboard again once we can ensure data is a true reflection of claimants’ experience. Thank you for your patience as we roll out these new federal benefits.

Our dashboard is updated weekly, on Thursday, in conjunction with the weekly UI numbers. The full dashboard can be found here.

  • $13.4 billion has been delivered through this crisis to 1,095,912 individuals

Weekly Numbers

Thursday, we announced our weekly unemployment numbers. You can find the full press release here. Highlights include:

  • During the week of December 27-January 2, there were 29,651 initial regular unemployment claims (up 54.5 percent from the prior week).
  • 557,419 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 12.1 percent from the prior week)
  • ESD paid out over $182.7 million for 316,175 individual claims

Trust Fund Balance: $1.8 B

Economic Recovery Dashboard

Check back often for newly released information