County, chamber launch small business recovery program (update)

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UPDATE (8:39 a.m. June 29, 2020): The Grand Rapids Chamber, in partnership with Kent County, opened the second round of applications for the Kent County small business recovery program on Monday. This round is for businesses that have already received COVID-19 funding. Thus far, the program has received over 500 applications, from all zip codes within Kent County, with 345 being eligible for the first round. The remaining 155 organizations that have applied will be eligible for consideration Monday. Those that have yet to receive coronavirus related aid are still encouraged to apply, as the first round will not close.

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce entered a partnership with Kent County to deliver short-term financial support to small businesses in Kent County and help cultivate a strong, economic recovery.

“The board of commissioners identified supporting our small businesses in this time of need as a top priority,” Kent County Administrator Wayman Britt said. “We are extremely excited to launch this program, which will position Kent County for a strong economic recovery.”

The partnership follows a decision by the Kent County Board of Commissioners to disperse $25 million in federal CARES Act dollars to small businesses in the form of grants and technical assistance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has truly been devastating to our community, and this recovery program is another tool our small businesses can use to get through the COVID-19 crisis,”  Kent County board chair Mandy Bolter said. “It was critical for our board to quickly respond to the needs of the business community because these grants will not only help our small businesses but our entire economy recover.”

The small business recovery program will help businesses that have not been able to access or have been declined local, state or federal relief funds gain access to additional support to weather the COVID-19 crisis.

The program will focus on businesses that may be dealing with additional barriers including but not limited to language, general business knowledge and those from underserved communities. Consistent with the limitations of the CARES Act, these businesses also must have been directly impacted and experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19.

Businesses that qualify for this fund will receive a short-term economic relief grant ranging from $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on the size of the business, operating costs and additional scoring metrics.

In addition to financial support, the chamber will provide technical assistance, including cost-cutting measures, six-month cash flow projection, analysis with a business consultant, creditor recommendation review and connections to other critical resources.

“The Grand Rapids Chamber is thrilled to be partnering with Kent County on this crucial work,” said Dante Villarreal, vice president of business and talent development at the Grand Rapids Chamber. “We know that the need for this additional funding is vast, and our team will be very intentional in ensuring that the entirety of Kent County will have the opportunity to engage, including our underrepresented communities.”

The chamber will open the first round of applications to those that have not previously received COVID-19 related aid on Monday.

Additionally, the program eligibility requires applicants to be a private, for-profit business located and registered in Kent County with 0-25 full-time equivalent employees, to have been directly impacted and experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19 and have a business start date prior to Feb. 15.

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