View all news

Reflecting on 2020: Small Businesses Find Support with Open for Small Business Initiative


COLUMBUS, OH – January 26, 2021 – Washington Prime Group Inc. (NYSE: WPG) town centers remain rooted in the belief that small businesses make a big impact, adding to the unique experiences of guests throughout the year. Demonstrating its commitment to helping small and local businesses from a financial standpoint in 2020, the Company’s Open for Small Business initiative contributed approximately $7 million through relief to minority owned small businesses; tenant allowance on new local and temporary deals; and emergency capital for existing local and regional tenants.

The U.S. is home to millions of small businesses, employing more than 60 million people, according to the Small Business Administration. These small businesses contribute to their local communities and help drive the American economy. Across the nation, Washington Prime Group’s portfolio includes more than 2,000 small business tenants, of which 57% are minority owned. When the pandemic hit, the ability of these small businesses to survive and thrive was in jeopardy. So, throughout the past nine months, the Company made it its mission to support tenants in the ways they needed it most and to maintain a strong connection with them during this unprecedented time.

Understanding the essential roles these businesses play within the U.S. economy and their contribution to the ingenuity of communities nationwide, The Company partnered with the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship and members of the University of Chicago faculty to launch the Open for Small Business initiative in April 2020. Through this initiative, Nobel Laureate Richard Thaler, Freakonomics author Steven Levitt and Institute Director Elizabeth Kregor joined forces with experts from Washington Prime Group to address some of the most pressing current needs of small businesses.

“Small businesses, many of which are minority owned, possess an entrepreneurial spirit which is best defined by hard work, creativity and a passion for the products and services they deliver to their neighbors,” said Lou Conforti, CEO and Director of Washington Prime Group. “Collectively, they generate substantial tax revenue and employ a lot of people. In fact, the 30.2 million small businesses located in the U.S. employ 47.8% of our private U.S. workforce. Plain and simple, it is imperative we do everything possible to keep our local entrepreneurs afloat.”

To help provide important resources and up-to-date information, Washington Prime Group created an Open for Small Business resource hub for small business owners and tenants alike. As many regional tenants navigate the uncharted waters of remaining financially stable, the webpage features an easy-to-use lease modification template to help provide options to small businesses during the pandemic. In addition, the resource page includes the latest documents and tools from vital government agencies, including the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Center for Disease Control for an easy-to-navigate experience.

Local tenant testimonials for Open for Small Business include the following:

“Your team and owners were first class in providing breathing room during this pandemic. I thank you and will always remember how patient Washington Prime Group and your team have been.  Allowing me to finally get the new tenant agreement and payment up to date without threat or penalty to perform will forever be remembered as a small business owner,” stated a local tenant at The Outlet Collection™ | Seattle.

“I could not be more appreciative of the efforts of management to make this as least detrimental as possible. This very well may be the reason I will be able to keep my business and reopen in the future,” said Lauren Gardiner, owner of Trend Jump located at Northwoods Mall.

“Many thanks to Washington Prime Group for extending a lifeline to those of us who are devastated by the pandemic. Washington Prime Group’s true colors have never been so brilliant during this crisis, and I commend you and your team for keeping us informed and connected. We are grateful and honored by our association with you,” commented Anita Bennet, owner of Thiesen Vending Company located at several town centers.

The Open for Small Business initiative continues to hold interactive webcasts and tutorials each month focused on COVID-19 resources, leadership, diversity and inclusion, recruiting, marketing communications, and other helpful resources and insights for small businesses. Past and upcoming webinars hosted by the Company, as well as information on relevant third party webinars, are available on the Open for Small Business resource hub.

“During these challenging times, we are proud to offer our tenants a sense of stability and support through the Open for Small Business initiative,” said Kurt Palmer, Senior Vice President, Specialty Leasing at Washington Prime Group. “We are dedicated to fostering the success of our tenants and ensuring they are equipped with the tools they need to thrive. Our town centers would not provide the same meaningful community experiences without our small and local tenants.”

To further support small businesses, Washington Prime Group teamed up with Coca-Cola for an exciting text-to-win sweepstakes throughout the recent holiday season. Guests who entered the sweepstakes were entered for a chance to win Coca-Cola swag and a $5,000 shopping spree, while Washington Prime Group contributed $0.25 per entry (up to $25,000) to the Open for Small Business initiative.

About Washington Prime Group

Washington Prime Group: National footprint with local flavor. With about 100 town centers throughout the US, we’re as American as apple pie. As a matter of fact, we are also as American as deep dish pizza in Chicago, Hawaiian poke salad, vegan spring rolls in Malibu, El Paso Tex-Mex, Maryland crab cakes, kimchi in Orange County, Memphis barbeque and a Kansas City porterhouse. Our well regarded infrastructure, from Hawaii to Connecticut, and pretty much everywhere else in between, allows our tenant and sponsor partners to benefit from the operating efficacy and economies of scale at a large national real estate company, alongside local management who possess comprehensive knowledge of the specific locale within which they reside. Washington Prime Group® is a registered trademark of the Company. Learn more at


Kimberly A. Green, VP, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications, 614.887.5647 or

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 which represent the current expectations and beliefs of management of Washington Prime Group Inc. (“WPG”) concerning the proposed transactions, the anticipated consequences and benefits of the transactions and the targeted close date for the transactions, and other future events and their potential effects on WPG, including, but not limited to, statements relating to anticipated financial and operating results, future liquidity, the Company’s plans, objectives, expectations and intentions, cost savings and other statements, including words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “confident,” “plan,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “will,” “should,” “may,” and other similar expressions. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of WPG’s management, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance, or achievements of WPG to be materially different from future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, without limitation: changes in asset quality and credit risk; ability to sustain revenue and earnings growth; changes in political, economic or market conditions generally and the real estate and capital markets specifically; the impact of increased competition; the availability of capital and financing; tenant or joint venture partner(s) bankruptcies; the failure to increase store occupancy and same-store operating income; risks associated with the acquisition, disposition, (re)development, expansion, leasing and management of properties; changes in market rental rates; trends in the retail industry; relationships with anchor tenants; risks relating to joint venture properties; costs of common area maintenance; competitive market forces; the level and volatility of interest rates; the rate of revenue increases as compared to expense increases; the financial stability of tenants within the retail industry; the restrictions in current financing arrangements or the failure to comply with such arrangements; the liquidity of real estate investments; the impact of changes to tax legislation and WPG’s tax positions; losses associated with closures, failures and stoppages associated with the spread and proliferation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; to qualify as a real estate investment trust; the failure to refinance debt at favorable terms and conditions; loss of key personnel; material changes in the dividend rates on securities or the ability to pay dividends on common shares or other securities; possible restrictions on the ability to operate or dispose of any partially-owned properties; the failure to achieve earnings/funds from operations targets or estimates; the failure to achieve projected returns or yields on (re)development and investment properties (including joint ventures); expected gains on debt extinguishment; changes in generally accepted accounting principles or interpretations thereof; terrorist activities and international hostilities; the unfavorable resolution of legal or regulatory proceedings; the impact of future acquisitions and divestitures; assets that may be subject to impairment charges; significant costs related to environmental issues; changes in LIBOR reporting practices or the method in which LIBOR is determined; and other risks and uncertainties, including those detailed from time to time in WPG’s statements and periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those described under “Risk Factors”. The forward-looking statements in this communication are qualified by these risk factors. Each statement speaks only as of the date of this press release and WPG undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, subsequent events or circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from current projections, expectations, and plans, if any. Investors, potential investors and others should give careful consideration to these risks and uncertainties.

View all news