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Durkan boosts Seattle Promise tuition program, comes to Hill to form new small business council

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s flurry of action to mark the start of her term leading Seattle include fulfilling a campaign pledge on education and a Thursday visit to Capitol Hill to launch a new small business council for “testing ideas, and providing direct feedback regarding the actual impacts and effects of how city policies are impacting the small business community.”

Wednesday, the mayor began the process of building on the 13th Year Promise Scholarship, a program funded by businesses that pays for one year of tuition at South Seattle College for qualifying graduates at three South Seattle high schools. Her new executive order directs the creation of a new Seattle Promise College Tuition program that would extend to a second year of free tuition and transition to public funding. How that funding will come together is to be determined.

The long-term vision for the program is to eventually grow to include all of Seattle’s public high schools and more of the area’s community and private colleges. Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central is part of South Seattle College’s three-school system. “Making college a reality for Seattle’s public schools students is a critical first step towards creating opportunity and addressing our city’s crushing affordability crisis,” Durkan said in the announcement of the new order.

Thursday, Mayor Durkan will be on Capitol Hill for a small business walking tour followed by an announcement held at 10th Ave’s Elliot Bay Book Company on the creation of a new small business advisory council, another of Durkan’s campaign commitments. Here’s how she described the proposed council during the campaign:

Many small businesses in the city feel as though their voices are not being heard. At the same time, they don’t have time to attend multiple council meetings or track how all of the initiatives of city government might impact them. Nor can they afford to hire lobbyists or consultants to represent them. In order to give our small businesses a voice, Jenny will create a small business advisory council to report directly to the mayor. This will help ensure the city hears what is working and what needs to change, and also ensure small businesses are receiving the support they need from city government.

The proposed council “will be tasked with testing ideas, and providing direct feedback regarding the actual impacts and effects of how city policies are impacting the small business community,” including regulatory fees like business license fees, or signage fees and rules. Durkan’s new small biz group could also be be asked to “review city parking rules and rates in neighborhood business districts.”

“The advisory council would include representation of a wide array of businesses from across the city,” Durkan’s campaign platform reads. “The mayor’s office would work with the city council to create the composition and duties of the Small Business Advisory Council, and would propose that at least two City Council members be appointed as Ex Officio members.”



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