Instructions

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SkillSource will award up to $150,000 in Small Business Investment Grant funds for Latino, Native American, and Black-owned businesses in Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Adams and Okanogan counties. The following instructions provide information about eligibility and guidance for understanding the requirements to apply. Once you have completed and submitted your application via the link at the bottom of this page, you will receive a confirmation email that your application has been received.

I. PURPOSE:  The small business investment grants are a part of the Community Reinvestment Initiative through the Washington State Department of Commerce. The overarching goal is to ensure that historically marginalized communities gain equitable access to resources, which promotes broader community development and economic resilience. SkillSource aims to connect small businesses in North Central Washington with these new funding opportunities to help businesses grow and thrive.

II.  APPLICATION PERIOD:  The grant application process will begin on July 1, 2024 and close no later than July 31, 2024.  If/when 50 applications are received, SkillSource will close the application/review period.  If funds are not fully awarded during this phase, another opportunity to apply for the grant will be available.

III.  AMOUNT AVAILABLE:  Applicants may apply for up to $15,000, with average awards anticipated to be between $5,000 and $10,000 (with minimum requests no less than $1,000).  Please note that substantiation of need (including budget and application) will help SkillSource make appropriate decisions on award amounts to maximize funding.

IV.  ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Business owner must be Black, Native American, or Latino and doing business in Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Adams or Okanogan counties.
  • Businesses must have a valid business license, WA State registration # (UBI#), and W9.
  • Statement of need and budget must be tied to one of the five focus areas as described below.

V. BUDGET & REPORTING REQUIREMENTS: 

  • The grant period will be from date of contract signature through no later than June 30, 2025.
  • SkillSource will require a mid-grant check-in and an end-of-grant report which will be determined by the grant/project duration chosen by business.
  • A brief narrative and expenditure report (planned vs. actual) will be required for end of grant report.
VI. FOCUS AREAS:
Businesses must choose one or more areas of focus to apply for grant funds.  Please select all that apply.  In general, grant funds are not intended to cover existing operational costs, but to implement something new.
 
The examples below are included to assist the applicant with choosing a focus area and are not exhaustive examples.
 

1. Capacity building/growth – The money will be used to make your business better – more profitable, more output, and/or reach more customers. Your business will be able to do more and serve more people over a wider area.

Examples:

  • Juan buys a lockable equipment trailer for his landscaping business which allows him to be more efficient and carry more equipment, supplies, and fuel.
  • Janine buys Microsoft 365 and QuickBooks software for her small business and pays for online training for her employees.  The software will make her business more efficient.
  • Jimena will use the money to hire a professional with expertise to write an expansion strategy for her small business.

2. Sustainability – The money will be used in ways that help your company stay in business a long time and adapt well to changes. This includes projects that are good for the environment, make the business financially stable, or have a lasting positive effect on the community.

Examples:

  • Miguel’s business will install a new heat pump to reduce electricity costs and increase energy efficiency.
    (Note:  Any improvements to property/buildings may only be approved for company owned property.  Improvements to Leased property are not allowed)
  • RaeAnne will fund resources (rent space, etc.) to start a community program related to her business, with free workshops, which builds a strong local reputation and customer loyalty.

3. Hiring Employees – The money will help you recruit and hire new employees, and get them started in your business.

Examples:

  • Jenna uses the money to purchase software to create an employee orientation process including materials and needed supplies for an employee handbook her employees.
  • Luis uses the funds to buy advertising for his open positions, allowing him to quickly recruit for a planned expansion.

4. Retaining Employees – The money will be used to help you keep the employees you have, reducing or eliminating turnover.

Examples:

  • Paulina plans to use the funds to send her team to a two-day offsite team-building seminar/training during the year.
  • Isidra will use the money to provide a remote work setup for five of her employees who do not need to be in the office to do their work.
  • Marcus plans to use the money to create an employee recognition program, with earned incentives for the Employee of the Month.

5. Employee Training/Development – The money will be used to provide training for employees to improve their skills.

Examples:

  • Victoria will use the money to work with the manufacturer of equipment used in her business to design a one-week new employee training program that teaches new employees how to use the equipment in the shop.
  • Felix will take his team to a training conference to learn skills, methods, approaches that will help them perform their job better.

VII. Scoring & Award: Awards will be distributed throughout the five counties and will take into consideration the following:

  • How the proposal meets one or more of the focus areas (45 pts)
  • Long term positive impact on the business and/or employees (25 pts)
  • How clearly the budget outlines how funds will be used (20 pts)
  • Application is clear & complete (10 pts)
  • Proposals that include a financial contribution toward the project by the company will receive additional points (up to 10 pts).

Note:  SkillSource reserves the right to make final award selections based on a variety of factors where the total score is not the sole consideration.

VIII.  Assistance with Grant ApplicationIf you have questions or need assistance completing your application, please contact: Kelli Martinelli, Communications Manager – kellim@skillsource.org

You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.  All new questions submitted along with answers will be summarized and posted within 2 working days of receipt.