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Small Business Innovation Fund Grant

The Economic Development Council for Island County (Island County EDC) submitted a bold proposal to the Washington Department of Commerce’s Small Business Innovation Fund grant program in partnership with the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County (EDASC) and the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN Catalysts) to help elevate a regional/rural entrepreneurial ecosystem in Island and Skagit Counties. The $1,159,216 funded project support small business recovery and spur entrepreneurship through a carefully designed program that will connect rural, BIPOC, women, and low-income entrepreneurs to the experts, tools, and capital they need to boost their businesses in the two-county region.

The Island County EDC-funded program – called “Elevating & Investing in Underserved Small Businesses in Rural Island County + Skagit County," – will run fthrough June 1, 2023 and includes the following programs.

All programs are free to Island County and Skagit County small businesses and startups:

  • RAINCAP BOOTCAMPS – Helping small businesses raise capital (e.g., finances, data-informed decisions about amount/use for capital, deal structure). (English + Spanish).
    • February (February) - registration is now closed.
    • April (Spanish) - registration opening soon
  • DESTINATION CREATION ACCELERATOR – Helping small, rural businesses elevate their unique products, services, and personalized experiences to attract out-of-market consumers and locals to their unique “destination.”
    • March - registration closing soon.
  • A MENTOR NETWORK – Matching rural entrepreneurs participating in the Destination Creation Accelerator and RAINcap Bootcamps with an expert in their industry (e.g., food & beverage, tourism, retail, technology) or an expert who can help them solve a business challenge (e.g., sales/marketing, finances, human resources) by leveraging RAIN Catalysts’ network of expert mentors.
  • AN “AMPLIFY” SMALL BUSINESS FUND – Providing grant funds to Chambers of Commerce, Main Street/Downtown/Waterfront Associations, and tourism organizations to amplify rural small businesses.
  • A “BOOST” YOUR BUSINESS FUND – Providing grants to small businesses that are led by BIPOC, women, low-income, and rural entrepreneurs. Categories include:
    • LAUNCH: e.g., develop brand, online presence, launch events
    • GROW: e.g., improve business processes, purchase inventory/equipment, hire contractors
    • SKYROCKET: e.g., hire staff, purchase inventory/equipment, open a brick/mortar location)
    • 1-year LivePlan business planning & financial management licenses for businesses
    • 1-year QuickBooks Online licenses for businesses
    • Computers for Island County EDC and EDASC to make available for use by rural entrepreneurs who need access
    • Meeting Owl Smart Video Conferencing Systems for the Island County EDC for use on Whidbey and Camano Islands to increase access, collaboration, and distance learning

The first educational program, RAINcap Bootcamp, is no longer accepting applications.

This is a free 4-session "Bootcamp" program designed to help small business owners and entrepreneurs fund their businesses and better manage their finances.

The program runs February 8 - February 16 with meetings held online through Zoom on Wednesdays and Thursdays 6-8 PM. (Watch parties will be available.)

Those who complete the course will also be eligible to apply for $2.5K - $25K business development grants.

Course topics include:

  • What Funding Source is Right for You?
  • How Much Should You Raise?
  • Making Strategic Financial Decisions for Growth
  • Pitch Your Business Story

Grant FAQs

Who is eligible to apply for grants under this program?

  • Applicants must have successfully completed the RAINcap Bootcamp
  • Applicants must have federal UEI number (click here to apply)
  • Non-profits are not eligible for this program.
  • Businesses must be located in Island or Skagit counties
  • Applicant may apply for a grant for only one business.
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