• WA State Department of Commerce awards $2.6 million to help businesses affected by Canadian border closure

    November 12, 2021
    Over 200 businesses and non-profits affected by COVID-related border restrictions to receive Working Washington Border Business Relief grants

    OLYMPIA, WA – Continuing its efforts to provide financial assistance to businesses and nonprofits severely affected by the pandemic, the Washington State Department of Commerce today announced  $2.6 million in Border Business Relief grants to 206 businesses and nonprofits in 10 counties that rely on an open border for customers, tourism and trade.

    “We’ve been fighting for all of our small businesses throughout the pandemic. This special funding for border relief gives communities hurt by the prolonged closure a chance to bounce back,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.

    Border Business Relief is the latest round of funding provided through Commerce’s Working Washington grants program, which to date has delivered nearly $360 million to more than 25,000 business throughout the state. An additional round of $50 million in Working Washington grants will be available to state small businesses in 2022.

    Customer-facing businesses and nonprofits in Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, Island, Skagit, Whatcom, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties were eligible to apply for grants up to $50,000. Successful applicants had to demonstrate hardship caused by COVID-19 border restrictions over the last 18 months. Washington’s border with Canada reopened to non-essential travelers on Monday this week.

    “The border restrictions have severely challenged communities that are close to the Canadian border crossing, as well as ports that depend on an open border for commerce,” said Washington State Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “This round of Working Washington funding was targeted to help these specific businesses and nonprofits reopen and recover with cross-border visitor traffic still slow.”

    "Cultural tourism is vital to our local arts community, especially the Canadian travelers that come to visit for weekend getaways. Most of the events we have been able to host during the pandemic have had attendance decreased by over 80 percent. This Border Business Relief Grant will help us to get back on our feet and be ready for our friends from the north to come visit again,” said Kelly Hart, Executive Director, Allied Arts of Whatcom County.

    A complete breakdown of completed grant programs is at www.commercegrants.com. Future Commerce grant programs for small businesses, nonprofits and other entities affected by the pandemic will also be listed on this site.