Amazon advised workers in Seattle to work from home over concerns about the coronavirus, as CNBC reported on March 5th. But it recognizes that the many small businesses located near its campuses will take a hit from the resulting lack of customers.
Amazon announced today it is creating a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to provide cash grants to Seattle small businesses that need assistance.
Clearly it anticipates the day when things get back to normal and its employees once again seek out nearby restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, retailers, and other small businesses.
The fund provides cash grants to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue; a physical presence within a few blocks of its Regrade and South Lake Union office buildings that are open to the general public; and that are reliant on foot-traffic for customers.
Amazon wrote in its announcement:
“Small businesses within the South Lake Union and Regrade neighborhoods will be eligible to apply for grants so they can continue to retain and pay their employees, stay current on rent, and cover other fixed costs related to their operations. We will be working with a third-party to administer grant applications and distribute funds. The plan is for applications to be reviewed during the second half of March and funds to be disbursed in April.”
You can read the full announcement on the AboutAmazon.com blog.
Amazon also contributed $1 million to a COVID-19 Response Fund that will deploy resources to community-based organizations dealing with the coronavirus outbreak in the Puget Sound region, which you can read about on this AboutAmazon.com blog post.
Update 3/11/2020: Amazon also announced today it is establishing a $25 million relief fund to support drivers, gig workers, and seasonal employees worldwide. You can read the details on this March 11th AboutAmazon.com blog post.