Grand Rapids offers grants to businesses in Neighborhoods of Focus

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Small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and located in Grand Rapids’ Neighborhoods of Focus may be eligible for grants up to $10,000 to adapt to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city of Grand Rapids said Monday that it is using $265,000 received through the CARES Act for the COVID Adaptation Program.

According to Jeremiah Gracia, the city’s economic development director, COVID Adaptation Program grant funding is available for business adaptations including technology, furniture, fixtures and equipment purchases, including personal protective equipment, that are necessary due to COVID-19 impacts on the operation of the business. Costs must have been incurred after March 1, 2020, and there is no matching requirement for the grant.

The city previously provided grants up to $5,000 to small businesses for working capital (rent, utilities and payroll). Businesses that received those grants are eligible to apply to this program if they are in the Neighborhoods of Focus (NOFs) and meet other eligibility requirements.

NOFs are 17 census tracts in the south and near West Side of Grand Rapids in relation to downtown. Due to systemic and historic inequities, residents in NOFs experience the most disparate outcomes in income, educational opportunities, homeownership and wealth accumulation compared to other Grand Rapids census tracts and the city as a whole. These tracts represent 36% of the city’s total 47 census tracts.

Additional information is available at the city’s website, where the application will be available beginning at 8 a.m. July 19.

Completed grant applications will be evaluated in the order they are received until all funding has been allocated. With grants awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, the city encourages businesses owners to review the webpage and prepare ahead of time so they are ready when applications open. To apply, businesses must register for an account, have a data universal number system number and submit documentation.

To be eligible, businesses must meet the following requirements:

  • Have between one and 25 employees (owner may be categorized as an employee)
  • Be a for-profit business. Nonprofits are not eligible.
  • Have a physical location (no internet-only or home-based businesses)
  • Be located in the Neighborhoods of Focus (NOFs) — see map
  • Have been in business since at least March 1, 2020
  • Comply with local, state and federal laws (e.g., marijuana-related businesses are prohibited)
  • Demonstrated loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Not owe past-due taxes, fines, fees or other debts to the city
  • Retain at least one full-time equivalent low- or moderate-income job

The program is funded with community development block grant coronavirus funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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