COVID-19 Prompts Amazon to Start Fund for Small Businesses
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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Amazon, with more than 53,000 employees at its Seattle headquarters, is creating a $5 million to assist nearby small businesses that have been affected financially by the coronavirus outbreak.
Seattle’s downtown area is devoid of foot traffic ever since Amazon and other area businesses told tens of thousands of employees to work from home. The result is far fewer customers for restaurants, shops and other businesses.
Cash Grants Will Go to Businesses with Fewer than 50 Employees
Amazon will provide cash grants to businesses with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue that serve the public, rely on foot traffic, and have a physical presence within a few blocks of Amazon buildings, Benjamin Romano reported in the Seattle Times on Tuesday.
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The first cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. were discovered in a Seattle suburb. So far, 22 people in Washington state have died from the disease, according to the Times. It’s the worst outbreak in the country.
“In building an enormous campus on the north end of downtown over the last decade, Amazon eschewed the lavish corporate cafeterias offered by other technology employers, instead creating space in its buildings for restaurants and other vendors, which largely rely on business from Amazon employees,” Romano explained.
Non-Reimbursable Funds to Be Disbursed in April
“Amazon intends to work with a third party to review grant applications from local businesses during the second half of March, with funds, which don’t need to be repaid, to be disbursed in April,” he added.
Jon Scholes, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association, told the Associated Press that the street outside his office window “was nearly completely empty late last week.”
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