Seattle, Washington (September 2023): La Union Studio is proud to be one of the first businesses to take advantage of the new Business Community Ownership Fund (BCO Fund) offered byThe Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) and the National Development Council(NDC). The BCO Fund is created to preserve and strengthen the businesses that make our communities vibrant which are at risk of displacement due to the increased costs of commercial properties in Seattle.
The Business Community Ownership (BCO)Fund is a new investment model that addresses the rising cost of commercial rent in Seattle, which often affects neighborhoods and businesses owned by people of color, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ+ people. These communities continue to have less access to capital due to systemic inequities, racism, and related barriers. The BCO Fund secures fixed, affordable rents for business owners. This financial stability keeps current neighborhood businesses in place and brings displaced business owners back to their communities. Businessowners who partner with the BCO Fund will receive the following benefits Shared ownership of commercial real estate and a stable, affordable occupancy costs.
How does the Fund work?
The BCO Fund invests in commercial real estate in Seattle neighborhoods, which will house storefronts for business owners at the highest risk of displacement. The Fund creates an LLC to invest in each project. Multiple business owners can become members of the LLC, which purchases the commercial property those businesses will occupy. Financing is secured by the National Development Council as a managing member. Tax benefits and cash flow benefit the business owners.
The BCO Fund's Goals
The BCO Fund aims to keep current small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and people of color in Seattle neighborhoods, create a pathway for securing commercial real estate for businesses that have been displaced or unable to establish a business in Seattle due to the rising costs of commercial rents, build businessowners’ financial security and economic independence, and increase business income and value by providing owners long-term stability and control.
The BCO Fund is a collaboration betweenthe City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) and the (NDC). It is still in its pilot phase and isactively seeking project ideas.
The Fund is looking for affordable commercial projects that meet key community and business objectives, such as integrating ground floor commercial into the neighborhood, providing culturally relevant goods and services, and supporting business sustainability and growth for women, LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, and other business owners of color. Projects will be prioritized for consideration based on the investment criteria and the project’s stated community benefit.
I recommend La Union Studio all the time. They are easy to work with, it felt like a collaboration the entire time, they listen to your wants and desires and really do a great job of incorporating them as well as their own styles to make it incredible.
Mi Kim, Owner, Raised Doughnuts & Cakes
Trusting the process with this team is simple, because they understand the reality of running a business. We trust they will accommodate your needs & the end result will be special.
Maxwell Heigh, Founder, Heigh Connects Food Group
Sergio and Sonia are a perfect balance of accessible and professional, of community-based and institutionally-connected. They can help bridge the often totally disparate worlds of small business and commercial development. Their design solutions to complicated problems are intuitive and straightforward.
Matthew Richter, Interim Executive Director, Cultural Space Agency
La Union Studio has helped us connect with people from the community that we were not in connection with before this project, which allowed more people to know Chebogz's story and legacy. They also have your back when issues rise and they do it in a way that doesn't scare the clients. They care!
Patrixia Paraiso, Owner, CheBogz Filipino Food
With Sergio and Sonia, you get two people who are insanely intelligent, incredibly creative, but also really patient. I really appreciate their ability to stick to a timeline, to meet deadlines, to continue to push and to reach a vision.
Gavin Sullivan, Owner, Madrona Bureau