Courtesy of Christin Hume via Unsplash

The Ready for Business Fund, a relief program launched by Comcast and Washington State’s LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce GSBA, has started distributing $2,500 cash grants to 66 small businesses throughout the state.

Originally launched in 2020, the Ready for Business Fund was created to support small businesses in Washington, especially those owned by LGBTQ people, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and women, who are at greater risk in today’s uncertain economy.

The fund was expanded to support small businesses statewide this year with a $100,000 investment from Comcast and GSBA continuing its role as the fund and program manager. In addition to supporting small businesses that are owned by diverse entrepreneurs, this year’s statewide expansion also focused on providing support for qualifying small businesses located in rural areas who have been particularly impacted by the pandemic and lack of proximity to resources.

“Over half of Washington’s workforce is employed by small businesses and we know that, especially within marginalized communities, these businesses serve as important gathering spaces,” said Ilona Lohrey, GSBA vice president of Membership and Programs, in a prepared statement. “For example, Washington’s gay bars have served as safe-havens for the LGBTQ community for decades. Immigrant-owned businesses often serve as little slices of their own countries of origin, where employees and patrons often speak their native languages, can come together in community, and share histories. These small businesses are not only a critical part of Washington’s economy, but essential components of the American experience. When these businesses are forced to close because of this pandemic, it hurts all of us. That’s why the Ready for Business Fund exists.”

Click here for more information about the fund and to learn more about this year’s grant recipients, including those within Pierce County.