Mayoral candidate will personally visit small business in a minimum of 20 neighborhoods
Harrell pledges support for small businesses and workers if elected; calls on Mayor Durkan to dedicate immediate federal resources to help smallest entrepreneurs, as well as arts and nightlife sectors
SEATTLE – Mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell today launched a citywide “Support Our Shops” small business tour at the Pike Place Market, the symbolic heart of Seattle and home to some of the hardest hit local and micro-businesses over the course of the past year. Harrell plans to visit at least 20 small business districts throughout the city over the next several weeks to discuss issues facing local businesses and their employees as the city emerges from a year long pandemic slowdown that has deeply impacted the city’s restaurants, independent retailers, nightlife and cultural venues, and other neighborhood businesses.
“Small businesses – and the people they employ – need a strong voice in City Hall committed to an equitable recovery, and focused on building a strong and resilient future,” said Harrell. “Seattle has seen too many local businesses close during this pandemic, too many jobs lost, too many families impacted. We need a Mayor who will step up to help restore neighborhood and downtown small businesses, link people to jobs, and provide long term planning and support to help our dynamic, diverse and cherished small business communities.”
“We’re starting this tour at the Market because this is where Seattle’s small businesses as a neighborhood resource began – and continues today with not only shopping and dining, but a food bank, senior center, and affordable housing and child care. The market is more than a symbol – it’s a microcosm of our city and it’s been devastated by the economic slowdown. We are starting here because this is ground zero of our unified commitment to economic recovery and revitalization.”
Harrell plans a series of visits to small business districts citywide, beginning with one in each of the seven council districts, and then adding destinations throughout the spring and summer. He says the response from business owners, workers, and local neighborhood leaders has been welcoming.
“People want to be heard, and they want to know someone wants to help them get back on their feet,” said Harrell. “Sadly, politics in City Hall has distracted from taking needed action and showing the compassion and support struggling local businesses need and deserve. I’m inspired by the stories of creativity and perseverance I’ve been hearing, but in order for a recovery to work for all – and protect workers and the smallest businesses from slipping through the cracks – we need new leadership and an open door.”
Among other ideas, Harrell is proposing several new initiatives that the City can take to foster small business recovery, and assist workers displaced by job loss and business closure, including targeted outreach, “business to business” connections, and ongoing funding to help small, minority owned businesses both recover and become established in a post-pandemic economy.
“Bruce has always stepped up for women and minority owned businesses,” said Theo Martin, owner of Island Soul Restaurant in Columbia City. “Now, with a pandemic that has disproportionately hurt businesses owned by people of color, and with too many politicians not listening to our concerns, we need Bruce’s experience and representation to make our voices heard, and provide the tools and resources to help get us back on our feet and positioned for future growth. We need him as our next Mayor.”
Harrell is also proposing investments in a Seattle Jobs Center, a centralized clearinghouse for workers and employers to match skills with available jobs, an important tool when so many workers have been displaced, and an uneven recovery makes searching for new work a struggle for many.
“I have always appreciated Bruce’s willingness to listen and develop innovative ideas to help neighborhood businesses – and working people,” said Joe Fugere, owner of Tutta Bella Pizza in Wallingford, South Lake Union, and Columbia City. “As we emerge from this economic crisis, we need Bruce’s commitment to helping businesses – and the people we employ – recover stronger and build trust that our city has our backs.”
Seattle’s world-renowned music, nightlife, and cultural sectors have been severely impacted by the pandemic, with thousands of jobs lost or furloughed as bar rooms, concert spaces, theaters, and neighborhood cultural centers stood empty for over a year. Harrell has outlined a series of proposals to help this sector recover, he is calling on the City to follow the lead of King County and offer dedicated support from recent federal relief funding.
“I want to bring back the nightlife and culture – the fun – to Seattle as Mayor with targeted rent relief, protection of threatened performance spaces and community resources, and other programs,” said Harrell. “But Seattle can start right now by following the lead of King County and communities across the nation and dedicate federal recovery dollars to this critical employment sector. We need to get musicians back on stages, kids involved in local theatres, field trips to our museums and science centers.”
Harrell’s decision to not wait until the election, and begin meeting with businesses now – to help shape a “Day One” agenda of support – is welcomed by many local business leaders who have struggled to find the time and resources to both advocate for themselves and their employees, while also remaining open over the past 14 months of pandemic disruption, a rise in property crime, and a homelessness crisis fueled in part by the pandemic and loss of jobs and safety net protections for the vulnerable.
“Bruce Harrell truly understands the pressures that small businesses like mine face,” said Talya Miller, owner of The Comfort Zone, a small Columbia city restaurant. “I have worked with Bruce for years and found him to be creative, resourceful and fully committed to small business success. His efforts have kept us in business, and I know he will be a strong, supportive Mayor for all of us.”
“I am so glad Bruce Harrell is running,” said Judy Lew, owner of the Harbor Cafe. “After 20 years of being in business in Downtown Seattle, I can totally give our endorsement of Bruce. He has spent his life serving Seattle, understands our concerns and needs. He has the experience of being a leader!”