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Capitol Hill owners throw support behind Banks small business plan

(Research and Images: CHS)

Flanked by Capitol Hill small business owners — and inside 12th Ave’s Rachel Ginger Beer, the setting for her new “small business for Pamela” advertisement — District 3 challenger Pamela Banks sat down with CHS to discuss her plans to address an important part of the district she says her opponent neglects.

Thursday, the candidate unveiled her “Small Business Action Plan,” a four-part platform that she says is independent business and community focused and has been honed by her time leading the Urban League serving Seattle’s African American and underserved communities.

“This is public safety, this is employment, this is economic development — they all overlap,” Banks told CHS Thursday.

The Banks District 3-focused plan includes a call for better community policing and closer relationships between neighbors, community businesses and organizations, and officers, two new loan program proposals, and the creation of a small business advisory committee at City Hall.

Additionally, Banks repeated her calls for more programs offering training “to help District 3 residents develop the skills they need to succeed.”

Supporters at Thursday’s media event — CHS was the only outlet to attend on what Banks campaign organizers said turned out to be “a busy day” for Seattle media — included Rachel’s Ginger Beer founder Rachel Marshall whose partnerships also own the Montana bar on E Olive Way and Nacho Borracho on Broadway.

“We’re a family-run, self-funded business,” Marshall told CHS. “I took on a half million dollars in debt to build something for my neighbors — and I employ my neighbors. There should be a real soft spot from our city legislators. Everybody at this table is sticking their neck out.”

Marshall said she respects City Council member and Banks opponent Kshama Sawant but feels that Banks is best positioned to help the neighborhood. (UPDATE: This post has been updated to more accurately describe Marshall’s statements.)

“You want to keep Capitol Hill weird, you want to keep it queer, you want to keep it indie and full of artists and musicians? This is how that happens. Not a fucking Pizza Hut on every corner,” said Marshall, who hosted Thursday’s event at her 12th Ave Arts building shop and also appears in a new small business-focused advertisement for the Banks campaign filmed there.

While much of her plan would build on existing City Hall resources, Banks said, if elected, she will push for the creation of two loan programs designed to help small businesses and organizations on Capitol Hill, in the Central District, and across D3.

The first would create a performance metric-driven lending program. If goals such as pedestrian count measures or created jobs are met, the borrower owes the city nothing:

The city should play a role in helping entrepreneurs find access to loans and other financing. Banks would replicate InStore, a Philadelphia loan program that offers $15,000 to $50,000 to small businesses and nonprofits, given they meet certain criteria such as enhancing foot traffic and impacting job retention or creation. The loans are forgiven if they meet the city’s requirements.

A second Banks lending initiative would be modeled on a San Francisco grants program that provides funding specifically to the city’s longest-lasting businesses in an effort to preserve the community and culture around neighborhood institutions:

Recognizing that District 3’s unique character is defined by its iconic small businesses, Bank proposes an initiative to protect and enhance businesses at least 30 years old. Modeled after similar programs in Buenos Aires, Barcelona and, most recently San Francisco, the program would provide grants to longtime business owners based on the number of employees and square footage. In San Francisco, the annual grants are capped at $50,000 per business and costs about $3 million per year.

The plan also includes a proposed “Small Business Advisory Committee” that both Banks and Sawant have championed in recent debate and forum appearances:

Banks would create a Small Business Advisory Committee to offer policy recommendations and feedback to the City. The Small Business Advisory Committee would address the specific needs of neighborhood-based businesses.

“It’s an ongoing issue for things that pop up for small businesses,” Banks said Thursday.

Michael Wells, who recently stepped down after five years of leading the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce said he is convinced Banks is the candidate to best serve the day to day needs of the District 3 business community.

“These are real, street-level programs that effect retail in a daily way,” Wells said.

Also attending Thursday’s event to support Banks were Travis Rosenthal of Pike’s Tango and Rhumba, Gregg Holcomb of Broadway’s Witness, and Wildrose owners Shelley Brothers and Martha Manning.

The plan and the support from a set of Capitol Hill business owners add to a Banks campaign that is finally taking shape after a primary that was mostly defined by the longtime City Hall insider not being Kshama Sawant. Late last month, Banks said public safety was her number one issue in the election following a summer of gunfire in Central Seattle. With a small business initiative in place, Banks has the potential to appeal to the owners and employees of the more than 8,000 businesses in District 3, according to the city’s business license database. You can read more about her proposed initiatives here.

Meanwhile, Sawant, has continued her winning formula of casting her work for City Council in the larger light of national — and global — inequity and the fight for social justice. Thursday morning while Banks was talking about small business loans, Sawant was calling out the SPD for what the councilor says it yet another instance of police brutality and cover-up in the city:

Councilmember Kshama Sawant, Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian, other educators from Seattle Public Schools, and activists from the Black Lives Matter movement will hold a press conference Thursday morning immediately prior to Seattle Police Chief O’Toole’s budget presentation to Council. They will ask why Chief O’Toole reversed the decision of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) to issue a one day unpaid suspension to Officer Sandra Delafuente.

Sawant’s campaign platform is here.

As usual, the money probably tells the story most clearly. For one, the District 3 race has attracted the most campaign cash of any of the City Council races in Seattle. The contrast between the two candidates is perhaps most clearly illustrated by how that money breaks down — Sawant has built her war chest thanks to small sacrifices from many soldiers while Banks apparently has a general or two in the mix to help her keep up.

With the Marshall ad, we now see some of the ways the Banks war chest will be put to use in the final weeks before the first ballot count on November 3rd.

Witness’s Holcomb said he’s ready for any backlash that might come from taking a side in the political battle against what has proven to be an extremely effective Sawant ground operation. “I’m already out there on the D3 Facebook page,” Holcomb said. “I want Broadway to be the best moving forward. If I get vilified for supporting a candidate, so be it.”

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29 thoughts on “Capitol Hill owners throw support behind Banks small business plan

  1. It has become very clear that Pamela Banks is the candidate who can focus on the issues which effect D3, as opposed to grandstanding on things which are city-state-federal- wide in scope (yes, of course there is some overlap). Ms. Banks would therefore be a much better representative for our district.

    I fail to see that Sawant has run a very effective “ground campaign.” I think she is very vulnerable. It will probably be a close election, but Banks will win in an upset.

  2. I’m a little confused as to why CHS keeps putting the same fundraising bar chart in every story about this race. If this was a story about fundraising, it would fit; but it’s a story about policy, in which case who-raised-what doesn’t have any bearing.

    • “Every” story :) It fits because it shows that while the $ totals are very close, the paths for each candidate to raise the cash are completely different.

      • @jseattle if you’re going to compare donation w/ # contributors then it would also be useful to compare where those contributors live. Sure, Sawant has received donations from 2800+ people however, only about half of those are from people who live in Seattle. About 80% of Banks’ donations come from people who live in the Seattle city limits. When donation dollars are compared, Banks has raised $272K from Seattleites whereas Sawant has only raised about $192K.

        Using you language, this narrative is just as valid:

        “As usual, the money probably tells the story most clearly. For one, the District 3 race has attracted the most campaign cash of any of the City Council races in Seattle. The contrast between the two candidates is perhaps most clearly illustrated by how that money breaks down — Banks has built her war chest thanks to sacrifices from Seattleites while Sawant apparently has people living outside the city in the mix to help her keep up.”


      • But, again, this story isn’t about raising money. You didn’t answer my question, just said that “it fits.” So I’ll ask again: what does this have to do with Banks’ small business action plan?

        It just looks like you’ve found a chart that plays to Sawant’s narrative and are reposting it over and over to help her campaign; which is fine as long as you’re upfront about your intent to do so, rather than feigning journalistic impartiality.

  3. I don’t want to spend $3 million taxpayer dollars to loan to small businesses. Sounds like the loans are more than loans and will be forgiven at some point. If you can’t afford a business, don’t do it. Pamela Banks knows nothing about business and the reason she’s getting all the business/developer money is that they are scared to death of Sawant. Sadly both candidates are abysmal.

    • I agree. The choice is clear though. Sawant in far more damaging than Banks. It’s just damage control now.

    • Sometimes it takes money to make money. It’s not charity. Obviously the point is for the city to eventually come out *ahead* by stimulating job creation. The expectation is the jobs created are a net win for the community and generate spending and taxes. If it works, it’s money well spent.

      • In fact it’s not all like trickle down, which doled out tax breaks on good faith. This program has strings attached to get the loan forgiven. If the city designs and implements the criteria correctly the loans are forgiven only if sufficient jobs are created. Which is the whole point of supporting small business. You don’t even know the strings– so how are you sure it’s “trickle down”?

  4. After the fit that small business owners had to weaken the minimum wage raise, I’m not particularly enthusiastic about helping them for a couple of years.

    Right now, we need to focus on affordable housing and figuring out what our new identity means. Does it mean $6 glasses of soda and $7 baskets of fries? I guess that’s “indie” but that’s not the Capitol Hill I remember (Sorry Rachel, your completely bougie bar is yet another symbol that Capitol Hill is turning into Bellevue West).

    • “…weaken the minimum wage raise,…”

      “Does it mean $6 glasses of soda and $7 baskets of fries?”

      you’re kind of all over the place here. how do you expect small businesses to pay the $15 minimum wage and keep prices stagnant at 1990’s rates? yes, it means sodas and fries and beer and everything else will likely be more expensive.

      if you can’t afford it (and i mostly cannot) then don’t go out.

  5. This made my day. Don’t have enough words to express my feelings about this, but yes. Keep cap hill independent. Support small business.

  6. ANOTHER reason to appreciate Pamela Banks over that ideologue Sawant.

    Banks – wants to HELP small business in a very intelligent manner, and help our community, since the grand majority of employed 3rd District residents work in small businesses.

    Sawant – wants to demonize small business.

    Seems a simple choice.

  7. 38% of Sawant’s contributions came from donors outside the City of Seattle.

    While Banks’s donations are 46% from District 3 and only 13% from outside Seattle.

    Sawant’s campaign is largely financed by out of City and State interests and her politics reflect that. I wish our City Council persons to work on Seattle issues. Not national Socialist politics.

    Vote Banks!

    • Oh Bob. Sawant still has had more individuals from district 3 contribute to her campaign than banks. Many people outside Seattle love sawant too, but she still had more donors in district three than Banks.

  8. Hmm, a choice between someone who has been involved in the communities of District 3 and is approachable or or nutjob academic who lives on the Eastside with her Microsoft husband and pontificates about things she can’t actually do on a local level with a long line of people who have claimed they have never been able to get a meeting with her. Your choice Capitol Hill……

    • If sawant lived in the east side she would not be eligible to run in district 3. So you’re wrong. She also isn’t married to a Microsoft employee.

  9. Say what you will about Sawant but she HAS to be doing something right to attract such a high-powered, big-money campaign against her. It makes no sense otherwise. If she really were as ineffective as her liberal detractors claim, she could stay in office for repeated terms with only token opposition (see, e.g., nearly every councilmember ever).

    I’d probably vote for Banks over most of the current council. If she had run for an at-large seat instead, she would merit a close look (Ron Sims’ endorsement is nothing to sneeze at). But Sawant clearly pisses off all the right people in ways that Banks clearly does not. That all by itself is reason enough in my book to keep her in there for a while.

  10. Only 3 new businesses for Marshall in the past 5 years?

    Wow, it must be really tough for people to start up a business with Sawant having been on the council for the past year and a half! Only 3 (Oh wait, only FOUR counting the one downtown) small businesses for one person? Maybe her and Meinart can own the entire neighborhood, if only we can get Sawant out!

    With Banks she’d be able to hire some under-privileged people from the CD and hopefully (fingers crossed) pay them less than a living wage but won’t it feel good to be helping the community?!

    You know, things are changing for the better and Sawant is large part of it. I find it funny how she’s been demonized especially by some of the people who have clearly been doing just fine over the past few years (In fact that demographic seems to be the ones donating to Bank’s campaign) which is more than I can say about the artists, activists and everyday people of Capitol Hill.

    • “You know, things are changing for the better and Sawant is large part of it. ”

      What about Like the increased crime and homelessness and out-of-control rents? She was unquestionably the driving force behind the increase in minimum wage, and for that she should be lauded, but what about all of the other bad shit going down?

      “I find it funny how she’s been demonized especially by some of the people who have clearly been doing just fine over the past few years (In fact that demographic seems to be the ones donating to Bank’s campaign) which is more than I can say about the artists, activists and everyday people of Capitol Hill.”

      So, it seems that you’re saying things are changing for the better due to Sawant… for the wealthy, and not so much for the artists, activists, and everyday people of Capitol Hill.

      • Crime, homelessness and rents are going up all over the country, especially in major cities. Are you saying that it’s Sawant’s fault that this is happening? Or is it her fault just in our particular district?

        Again I think it’s important to take note that she has been in office for less than two years.

        Small businesses in this neighborhood seem to be flourishing, I don’t see how fighting for these supposed underdogs even matters in regards to crime, homelessness and rents.

        Or maybe the issue is that she is trying to address these issues instead of throwing a band-aid on a few things within the neighborhood and being complicit of an economic system and city council that has consistently ignored the needs of the workers, artists and activists that call this neighborhood home.

        I know many people seem to think that Banks is going to whip this district into shape because lord knows the socialist has been too busy setting off a national fervor for living wages, standing up to slumlords and greedy property owners, demanding money for social services, standing with Black Lives Matter, offering a part of her salary to house LGBTQ youth and standing up for everyday, hard working people at town hall. I just truly wonder how Banks will house the homeless, fight crime and get rents to stabilize?

        Surely Marshall’s fifth small business with 7 dollar sodas will help at least get that east side and high-salaried, high-end renters’ money funneling into the neighborhood, and if that’s what sounds best to you then go ahead and vote for Banks.

      • Well, statistics say otherwise about crime and rents going up all over the country. What’s happening in Seattle isn’t normal; it’s specific to a few places in the country.

        The increase in crime here is due, in large part, to a rapid increase in population and is, unfortunately, an inevitable short-term side effect until city budgets catch up to growth. Of course you won’t hear that from the candidates.

        Anyhoo, Sawant will the election because she’s promising lower rents via rent control (which puts her at odds with most of the world, not just with the city and the state) and to “tax the rich,” despite the city not having the power to do that either.

        If those weren’t her tentpole issues and solutions, I’d be happy to support her. But if you actually visit Socialist Alternative, you’ll see that they are actively anti-business, and have some batshit ideas about how to address some of the root issues facing cities.

      • You’re probably right about why Sawant will win the election (IF she does). It’s really kind of depressing that so many people seem to be naively buying her claim that she will magically reduce their rents. That is not going to happen, and she knows it, which means that she is a liar.

      • I guess that’s the brilliant thing about getting a progressive candidate in after the system has gotten so corrupt (you do realize how much power developers have in this city, don’t you?) you can constantly blame them for all of the problems that they can’t seem to fix within the short period of time you allow them to stay in office and then when they aren’t able to turn around the monolithic greed that’s occurred in spite of their best efforts (Again, she’s been in office for less than two years) you can say that these progressive ideas just don’t work, let’s get someone “who can reach across the aisle”, etc. and we wonder why we can’t get away from austerity measures time and time again and every step towards progress seems much more difficult that it ought to.

        I’m just not interested in the race to the bottom (for example, let’s keep pushing people to the next neighborhood, speaking of which when they cleaned up downtown, the capitol hill homeless populations certainly increased, did you notice?) and I’m certainly not privileged enough to go on the way we’ve been heading where we just keep hoping for minimal amounts of change from a candidate who is getting large amounts of money from dubious sources.

  11. Interesting article — thanks. I’ll support Banks because she realizes that without business, there are no jobs (except if one works in the non-profit, academic, or public sectors). Small, independent businesses in particular are job creators and tend to buy locally if possible, creating more jobs. I’ve heard Sawant rail against “big business,” “corporate interests,” etc. but I’ve never heard her say anything nice about small businesses. If I missed it, it’s because such utterances are so rare in her pro-worker, anti-employer, stick-it-to-the-Man rhetoric. Fine with me if she hates “corporate America” but Sawant has never advocated for the interests of ANY business, assuming they’re all owned by capitalist pigs. But it’s only because we have local businesses like Rachel’s or Dicks that we have a choice NOT to support corporate America. And no, I don’t own a small business. I work for one.

  12. Banks wants more programs offering training “to help District 3 residents develop the skills they need to succeed.” Does this mean that we artists who’ve been able to survive with service industry day jobs will now be offered professional retraining so we can pull down 6 figures and afford to pay the increasingly sky high rents? I didn’t think so. We need someone who speaks for the people and is not tied to business interests, be they large or small– that’s why I’m still for Sawant.

  13. Pamela Banks is proposing giving business owners, “small” ones of course, money from right out the city budget and suddenly there’s a bunch of “small business owners for Pamela”. Pamela Banks supporters would presumably be at the front of the line for those no interest loans, you know as long as they “perform well” which helps when your getting free money and you have friends in City Hall.

    What even is that? It’s definitely not socialism but it’s not the tale about “free market” capitalism we’ve all been told either. Pamela Banks is fully on board with developers who want to drastically increase rents both for residents and small businesses. She’s no opponent of big chains coming in, just because she’s trying to buy smaller business owners off with talk of free money that probably wouldn’t actually happen anyway. It’s easy to make vague campaign promises and then go gee whiz I fought for it but the other councilmembers wouldn’t budge.

    That doesn’t mean the real interests of small businesses, many of whom rely on business from people who are getting displaced from the city are with Pamela Banks corporate circus. Boo hoo they have to pay their workers a whole 10.50 now, 11.50 in April, the horror. Monopoly capitalists eats small businesses for lunch while occasionally bastardizing new innovations for their own ends. Some businesses already pay their workers better than the old minimum wage or saw no real problem with a minor wage increase for their employees. Molly Moons Ice Cream is backing Sawant, so are The Station, Baja Bistro and Beacon Ave Sandwiches in North Beacon Hill, Original Phillys in Mt Baker, Island Soul in Columbia City and some others. Those are like real neighborhood people not developers looking to slap together something trendy and cash in on the new yuppie, drunken, straight people hordes that now dominate Capitol Hill.