Capitol Hill small business owners, City Hall wants to hear from you ASAP

If you run a small business in Seattle, the Office of Economic Development wants to hear from you. Kind of.

Thanks to a weekly newsletter from the office of West Seattle’s City Council rep Lisa Herbold, we just heard about this OED small business survey that will help the department “prioritize their programs and services, as well as to inform pilot projects, such as the Legacy Business Program.” It closes Sunday, July 14th so use your “small business Saturday” to add your voice. Continue reading

Businesses getting their turn to help shape Seattle’s head tax

With reporting by SCC Insight

Tuesday afternoon, Poquitos co-owner Rich Fox was slated to be part of the Seattle City Council’s attempt to get more business voices at the table as it moves toward a planned May vote on a new employee-hours tax to help fund homelessness services and affordability efforts.

Tuesday’s “business roundtable” organized by Sally Bagshaw was part of an attempt to make up for the relatively meager participation by businesses in the Seattle Progressive Revenue Task Force organized by Council members Lorena Gonzalez and Lisa Herbold. Continue reading

Here are the Capitol Hill and Central District owners joining ‘301 small businesses’ speaking out against Seattle ’employment tax’ recommendations

Dani Cone of Cone and Steiner — and Fuel — made the list… twice (Image: CHS)

With a task force recommending a $75 million a year Seattle business tax for housing and homelessness services, a collection of “301 small businesses from every part of the city and every sector of the economy” has sent a letter to the City Council asking them not to move forward with the recommendation.

Several Capitol Hill and Central District businesses, highlighted in bold by CHS below, appear on the roster in the effort touted as “a purely organic grass roots effort and not organized by any one business association or advocacy group.”

“Small businesses across the city are writing to you today to urge you to reconsider the recommendations from the Progressive Revenue Taskforce on the Employee Hours Tax and any consideration of a proposed Employee Hours Tax legislation on Seattle businesses,” the letter begins. “We are disappointed that once again small business leaders were never consulted for input, facts or information about the real challenges we face.” Continue reading

Seattle’s new small business council has big Capitol Hill presence

Durkan and Taylor on a neighborhood small business tour in November (Image: CHS)

After Amazon announced it was going to open a second headquarters, the Seattle City Council decided it needed to start meeting with the behemoth corporation, carefully orchestrating  who would attend so they didn’t run afoul of open meetings laws.

Small businesses around town haven’t yet gotten the same sort of attention.

“I feel like small business has lost its voice in this city over the last few years,” said Tracy Taylor of Capitol Hill’s Elliott Bay Book Company.

That will change in the coming months. Mayor Jenny Durkan has convened a Small Business Advisory Council and the group plans to have its first meeting this week on Wednesday, February 21st. Taylor is one of the council’s four co-chairs.

Taylor’s comments about the loss of a voice were echoed by others with strong Capitol Hill connections on the council. Continue reading

Two Central District cafes facing closure point finger at Seattle City Hall

They both have become familiar faces whenever Central District small businesses are being discussed — usually in the context of the next big development or the next big infrastructure project promised to bring change to the neighborhoods their cafes have called home. Neighbors are now saying their goodbyes to Felix Ngoussou’s Jackson St. Lake Chad Cafe and Sara Mae’s 701 Coffee.

The 23rd and Cherry cafe owner Mae said she takes personal responsibility for 701’s closure but said she also lays blame with Seattle City Hall and District 3 representative Kshama Sawant for what she predicts will be a wave of Central District closures:

701 is just one in a line of real small businesses in the Central District that have been forced to close. We aren’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last. I firmly believe this trend will continue. There’s certainly no elected official—Kshama—that is going to give two shits about the plight of Central District Small Businesses. We have an elected official in the Central District who isn’t willing to devote some of her time and political capital to assuring that there is prosperity on the horizon for Central District small businesses. Instead she has created a movement that is based on resentment, and divisive political rhetoric that serves no purpose but to hold power, and keep people who are struggling trapped in a cycle of spinning their wheels, waiting for her precious cake. Frankly, all we have received in the aggregate from Kshama in all of this is Central District small business circumstances that has worsened under her reign.

Continue reading

Exit interview: CHS talks with outgoing Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce leader Sierra Hansen

Were you as excited as Sierra Hansen when Capitol Hill Station opened in 2016?

It was only two years ago that the previous executive director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Michael Wells, stepped down from his position as leader of the Hill’s chief business advocacy group. Now, his replacement, Sierra Hansen  has transitioned out of the role to head up the the planned-for-expansion Broadway Business Improvement Area on a six-month contract. The chamber’s director of external relations Mel Burchett is stepping up to manage the group. CHS sat down with Hansen to talk shop on a variety of Hill-specific issues and what she learned about the neighborhood during her tenure.

Why did you leave your position as executive director to take over the six month BIA contract? It was a natural time for me to step down. Part of the reason I was brought on board was to re-energize our membership services, really bring a strong membership focus back to the chamber, but also to work on the BIA expansion. In the expansion, I think we left it in a pretty strong place. We engaged new stakeholders that really were not as well organized, particularly in the Melrose area. The organization is kind of at this place where they really need to focus solely on the BIA … there was really nobody with the capacity in-house to do that work because they needed somebody to focus on the BIA expansion and Mel [the chamber’s director of external relations],who is continuing to do the membership and some operational stuff, just didn’t have the bandwidth so I proposed to them that I stay on board to manage the contract and it was a win-win for everybody.

I have remained on extremely friendly terms with the Board and with the staff; I mean, I’m managing the contract so clearly I was not run out of town. I continue to have a really strong relationship with them and I’ve told them that if there’s anything I can do to help with their work—now or in the future—to never hesitate to pick up the phone because I have such a love for this neighborhood and the members and I just feel so humbled and honored [to get to] represent this neighborhood in any kind of capacity. I got so many lovely notes when I announced my departure and I truly feel like I was there representative first. Continue reading

Capitol Hill small businesses ready for 2018 bump, preparing for coming minimum wage jumps

An estimated 80,000 people who work in Seattle will be getting a raise January 1st as the city continues its long march to a $15 per hour minimum wage. That accounts for nearly 15% of the city’s workforce of 540,000. Even more could see other new benefits surrounding sick leave.

The wage increases are only part of the good news for workers. In 2016, Washington voters approved I-1433 expanding mandatory sick leave statewide. Some benefits in the initiative are more generous than those granted under city regulations, explained Karina Bull, of the city’s Office of Labor Standards.

Some of the new benefits include allowing people to take sick time to care for children of any age (the old rules only allowed for time to help minor children) and also to help siblings and grandchildren. The waiting period to qualify for paid sick time will be reduced from 180 to 90 days. Caps on the use of sick time will be forbidden. There will no longer be an exemption for employees engaged in a work-study program.

In some cases, the Seattle benefits are more generous, and will remain in place.

Bull said the City Council will likely soon consider an ordinance to implement the more generous state standards, where appropriate. Reviewing the city’s charts laying out the various changes (PDF) have become an end of the year Seattle small business tradition.

Meanwhile, in 2018, more workers will be getting more money. Continue reading

On Capitol Hill, mayor greeted with applause, protesters as she announces Seattle Small Business Advisory Council

Mayor Jenny Durkan got the full Capitol Hill experience Thursday as she came to the neighborhood for a Pike/Pine walking tour and to announce the formation of Seattle’s first Small Business Advisory Council. The new mayor met a collection of Capitol Hill entrepreneurs, grabbed a latte at Vita — and got a momentary earful from protesters who briefly disrupted her announcement inside Elliott Bay Book Company before being shuffled out of the store where police awaited outside.

One was arrested, dozens of local business representatives applauded the new council, and Mayor Durkan did what she could to roll with the punches and get down to the business of small business in Seattle.

“As we grow as a city we want to make sure that we are able to preserve those parts of Seattle that we cherish the most,” Durkan said with a large collection of Capitol Hill area  And one of those things is that eclectic feel of every neighborhood. And that often hinges on the small businesses that are located there.” Continue reading