Case Study: WSDA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Grants
FORWARD Impact in Washington State
- Awarded over $14M in grants to 838 small businesses across Washington state
- Businesses were awarded an average grant amount of $16,955
- Four niche sectors supported – craft beverage, shellfish, agritourism, and farmers’ markets
- 36% of grant recipients were minority, women or LGBTQ+ owned businesses
“Thank you so much for the support and tools to help us continue to operate in a very difficult time. Because of this funding, we are able to continue to purchase ingredients from local farmers and producers.”
— Emily Burt, Owner of Republic Brewing Company, WSDA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Grant Recipient
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has been serving the state’s agriculture community for more than 100 years, promoting Washington agricultural products, and ensuring regulations are observed.
In 2021, WSDA contracted FORWARD to administer $14 million in funds from the Disaster Response Account managed by the State of Washington Office of Financial Management, to support agriculture businesses and organizations in sectors that have been economically hurt due to marketplace disruptions created by the necessary public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
FORWARD provided comprehensive program administration services, administering four programs within the WSDA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Grants Program that served the following sectors – craft beverage, shellfish, agritourism, and farmer’s markets. FORWARD’s program management team ensured that funds were distributed securely and that WSDA complied with regulations and reporting requirements.
|What were the challenges?||FORWARD Solutions|
|Many small businesses and microenterprises are unaware of or needed more support to apply to the program.||FORWARD partnered with the Washington Wine Institute which has trusted relationships with craft beverage business owners across the state to perform outreach and help affected businesses access the program.
FORWARD’s multilingual in-house support team provided application assistance via phone, text and email to help applicants complete the application process and provided necessary documentation.
|The Washington State Department of Agriculture needed additional support to process and review applications and distribute funding to small business owners.||FORWARD provided in-house Application and Payment Processing support. FORWARD Intake Specialists helped business owners complete their applications and review and process applications. The FORWARD Payments team performed an additional review of each application before distributing payment to approved applicants.|
|The Washington State Department of Agriculture needed to meet its reporting requirements.||FORWARD provided weekly reports to the WSDA and a final report at the end of the program.|
By June 2021, FORWARD awarded over $14M in funding through the WSDA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Grants.
838 small businesses in the craft beverage, shellfish, agritourism, and farmers’ markets sectors were awarded an average grant amount of $16,955. Many of the businesses used the funding to pay for operating expenses, such as rent and payroll, and to pay for additional expenses to comply with new COVID-19 regulations. Of the awardees, 36% of grant recipients were minority, women or LGBTQ+ owned businesses.
36% of grant recipients were minority, women or LGBTQ+ owned businesses.
Dollar Amount Awarded by Sector
FORWARD collaborated with a local Washington-based organization, the Washington Wine Institute, which has trusted relationships with many small businesses in the craft beverage sector, to promote the program and help businesses access COVID-19 relief.
“By partnering with FORWARD, we helped more struggling small craft beverage producers, including wineries, receive funding through the Washington State Department of Agriculture Relief and Recovery Grant program. Their easy-to-use application process and focus on community partnerships amplify program reach getting more resources to the most affected small business owners. Thanks to our combined efforts, many struggling small wineries were able to survive the pandemic shutdowns.”
– Josh McDonald, Executive Director, Washington Wine Institute
FORWARD is proud to provide the program infrastructure for the WSDA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Grants to help agriculture small businesses across Washington state recover from economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.