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Legacy Business Nominations Open through February 14th; November Constituent Email Report

Legacy Business Nominations Open through February 14th

In 2016, my first week as a Councilmember, a District 1 resident brought me the idea of a Seattle Legacy Business Program, modeled after a successful San Francisco effort: to “recognize that longstanding, community-serving businesses can be valuable cultural assets to the City.  In addition, the City intends that the Registry be a tool for providing educational and promotional assistance to Legacy Businesses to encourage their continued viability and success.”

I’m happy to report that the Office of Economic Development has announced that they are taking nominations for Legacy Businesses through February 14!

The nomination and designation of Legacy Businesses is one way to honor the resilience of these beloved businesses and recognize their contribution to the city’s cultural vibrancy, our local economy, and our sense of place.  In addition to San Francisco, other cities have Legacy Business Programs. After tavern closures in England, they created an “Assets of Community Value” program.   When Paris bookstores closed, they developed a  Vital Quartier program to preserve them.

I’m hopeful the city will continue to develop more resources and tools — such as succession planning, marketing consultations, and incentivizing the development of affordable commercial space — so our legacy businesses can continue to thrive.

To be eligible, a business must be an independently owned, for profit business, in continuous operations for a minimum of 10 years in Seattle, and have fewer than 50 employees, including the owner.

You can nominate a business here; businesses can self-nominate too!

One winner will be selected from each of the seven council districts. Based on public nominations, winners will be selected by a Selection Committee comprised of representatives from business district organizations in each Council District.

The Legacy Business Program celebrates businesses in our neighborhoods that are going beyond the basic sales of goods and services. These businesses are staples in their communities, serve as key contributors to neighborhood identity, and face a significant risk of displacement.

Winning businesses will receive public recognition at an awards ceremony in May, in recognition of National Small Business Month. Winners will also receive access to a variety of small business support services through the Office of Economic Development, including a commercial lease and succession planning toolkit, marketing and legal consultation.

An FAQ is available here, including information on awards.

Here is a little more background on the 3 plus year effort to get this program up and running. 

  • In June of 2016, I worked with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Seattle, and 4 Culture to survey community members to identify our most important business establishments. Public feedback, with nearly 500 respondents, identified small businesses worthy of preservation.
  • The 2016 survey was intended to inform the Mayor’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee efforts in determining what policies or funding support may be necessary to preserve and protect Seattle’s iconic small businesses.
  • The Advisory Committee recommended in the fall of 2016 that the City provide promotional and technical support for certain legacy businesses operating in Seattle. The Committee said that more needed to be done to determine what Seattle’s legacy business program would look like, including age and sectors of eligible businesses.
  • I earmarked funding in the 2017 budget for a Seattle Legacy Business study to determine the scope and definition of a Seattle Legacy Business program.
  • The 2017 study confirmed that Legacy Businesses face similar challenges as most small businesses such as marketing and promotion, however there are unique issues like succession planning and long-term stability in commercial leases that pose specific threats.
  • I earmarked 2018 funding for a second study to make program design recommendations, including eligibility, a nomination and designation process for a new Legacy Business Designation Program.
  • That same year, another study in the University District, among recommendations related to displacement and gentrification, agreed that the Office of Economic Development, should adopt “best practice anti-displacement measures to protect small businesses, such as San Francisco’s Legacy Business Program.”
  • In 2019, as member of the Seattle Investment Fund Committee, I worked to pilot support to legacy businesses, investing $800,000 in affordable commercial tenant improvement space for legacy businesses in neighborhoods identified as high displacement risk areas in the City’s 2035 Growth and Equity Report. Among others, businesses like Earl’s Cuts and Styles and Phnom Penh Noodle House were awardees.

  • Carried over unspent 2018 funds in 2019 in the budget for the Legacy Business Program to designate and provide resources to one Legacy Business in each of the 7 Council Districts in 2019

Legacy businesses give our neighborhoods character and create a bridge to our city’s past. They face the same displacement pressures as many Seattle residents.

November Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office. My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering. The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in November, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in November related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

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