Seattle Businesses Take Action to Battle COVID-19

Organizations step up to keep business humming and reassure customers and employees
Updated: Tue, 03/17/2020 - 13:01
 
 
  • Organizations step up to keep business humming and reassure customers and employees

Alaska Airlines Chief Executive Officer Brad Tilden and President Ben Minnicucci have reduced their base salaries to zero. The airline is also reducing capacity and seeking to borrow $500 million as air travel declines.

Amazon is hiring 100,000 full- and part-time delivery and warehouse workers to keep pace with surging demand as consumers stockpile items because of the coronavirus. 

Grocers across the country are staffing up as demand increases. Albertsons and Safeway are hiring 2,000 workers across the state, and Kroger —which operates numerous Fred Meyer and QFC stores in the region — are also hiring.

Businesses across the region are taking steps to reassure customers and employees and keep business humming as government and health officials across the country temporarily close public places and encourage social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a glimpse of how several prominent businesses are coping.

Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. will close all stores in the United States and Canada starting March 17 for two weeks. The company said it would pay employees during the closure. Kent-based REI has closed all 162 stores until March 27 and will also ensure that employees receive a paycheck. Microsoft and T-Mobile just announced today that they would temporarily shut their retail locations as well.

Fine-dining restaurant Canlis recently closed its restaurant and this week unveiled three new dining services in its place: a drive-through lunch and dinner service and a “bagel shed” during breakfast hours. “Fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now,” the company wrote on its website.

Those Seattle-area companies join a long list of retailers with a significant presence in the state, including Apple, Columbia Sportswear and Dollar General, in temporarily closing their brick-and-mortar locations. Men’s Wearhouse, which operates 17 stores across Washington state, will temporarily close all physical outlets through the end of March. Its e-commerce platform remains open. 

A local Facebook support group launched by Fearey Group President and CEO Aaron Blank and BizX founder and CEO Bob Bagga now has 521 members, about four times what it had just a few days ago. It recently launched a podcast to further engage its rapidly growing membership base.

The U.S. Small Business Administration also just announced that it is offering low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million to small businesses across Washington that are suffering “substantial economic injury” during the pandemic.

Applicants can apply online at this website.

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