1. In This Together
The Covid-19 pandemic is the defining piece of 2020. In the midst of change and uncertainty, the Eastside communities came together to support one another and local businesses.
Programs were launched by organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bellevue, The Salvation Army, Sophia Way, Life Spring, Jubilee Reach, and countless other organizations to provide necessary services such as childcare, meals, and housing for Bellevue and Eastside residents.
Beginning in the early days of lockdown, the Bellevue Chamber launched an 11-part webcast series to provide resources and information to the business community. We opened a call center to reach out to and field incoming requests for SBA and disaster loan assistance, connecting with over 500 area businesses and nonprofits.
In June, we partnered with King County to distribute PPE to 1,233 Bellevue businesses, totaling 192,000 masks and 3,454 bottles of hand sanitizer. We also partnered with the City of Bellevue to distribute 63,000 masks to the residents of Bellevue.
2. Taking a Stand
Sparked by the death of George Floyd, people across our city, state, and country took to the streets for marches and sit-ins to protest systemic racism and violence against people of color.
During one of these demonstrations, Bellevue Chief of Police Steve Mylett made national headlines as he knelt with and addressed the protesters.
While the majority of the Eastside's protests remained peaceful, looters took advantage of the protests to engage in significant vandalism and property destruction on the last day in May. On June 1, the Chamber organized over 350 volunteers to cleanup the city by scrubbing off graffiti and picking up debris. It was a testament to our city's strength to see so many individuals join together to support both Bellevue's small businesses, as well as our collective and unfinished work to build a just and diverse community.
Mayor Lynne Robinson, with the support of the City Council, pledged to review police use of force in Bellevue in cooperation with Black leaders, the business community, residents, and the city's police department.
3. Tough Decisions, Positive Results
Bellevue City Council unanimously adopted the 2020-21 Operating Budget. The budget balances preserving public safety and closing a $16 million budget deficit without imposing new taxes.
City Manager Brad Miyake said the budget “balances Bellevue’s history of fiscal responsibility with the needs of residences and businesses during this difficult time. This budget continues to fund the delivery of critical services in areas of public safety, public health…and continues to maintain and build upon the basic capital infrastructure of the city to prepare us to meet the growth challenges coming at the city.”
The Bellevue Chamber and Bellevue Downtown Association worked closely with the city through the budgeting process and supported its adoption. We applaud the Council, City Manager, and the various city departments for the positive process and promising outcome even in difficult times.
4. Moving into the Neighborhood
In September, Facebook announced it purchased the 6-acre, 400,000 square foot complex from REI in Bellevue's Spring District. An anticipated 2,300 employees will begin working at the new location once employees are able to return to the office.
Facebook has ramped up its involvement in Bellevue. Contributing to local nonprofits, engaging in the Chamber and other local organizations, and joining forces with REI in donating $1 million to Eastrail, the ever-growing 42-mile trail system connecting Eastside cities.
5. Growing Our Workforce
Also in September, Amazon announced it acquired an additional 2 million square feet of office space in downtown Bellevue. The company plans to add an additional 10,000 jobs on top of the previously planned 15,000 for the next few years. The space is also expected to include public parks and retail space.
Like their delivery drivers, Amazon's arrival also came with a gift. The company gave the City of Bellevue a $1 million grant for its Human Services Fund to help families in need.
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Legislative Kickoff Event
January 6, 7:30 am - 9:00 am
Join hundreds of business leaders, dozens of elected officials, industry experts, and Secretary of State Kim Wyman for the biggest political event of the year.
The East King Chamber's Legislative Kickoff jump starts the session in Olympia each year. This year, we're going digital but also bigger and better than ever!