Grand Rapids expands COVID adaptation grant for small businesses

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Jeremiah Gracia. Courtesy Robb McCormick Photography

The city of Grand Rapids will now offer COVID Adaptation Program grants to an expanded group of businesses within the city.

The city of Grand Rapids Office of Economic Development opened the opportunity for businesses located in one of the six Corridor Improvement Authority (CIA) boundaries to receive grants up to $10,000 for the implementation of COVID safety measures.

Jeremiah Gracia, economic development director for the city, said the city has provided $100,000 in grants to 12 qualified businesses in the city’s Neighborhoods of Focus (NOF), and now will extend the grants to businesses located within CIA boundaries, which include Michigan Street, North Quarter, South Division-Grandville, Southtown, Uptown and West Side.

COVID Adaptation Program grant funding is intended to help businesses who have implemented new technology, furniture, fixtures and other equipment (including personal protective equipment) needed to address or reduce the risks of COVID-19 exposure. The grants apply to costs for these specific protection measures on or after March 2, 2020. A full list of eligibility requirements and eligible uses of grant funds is available at this link.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded the $265,000 program through the use of its Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funds.

Previously, the city provided grants up to $5,000 to small businesses for working capital, including rent, utilities and payroll. These businesses also are eligible for the COVID Adaptation Program grant if they meet all eligibility requirements and are located within the designated NOF areas or CIA districts.

Putt Putt’s Bar on the West Side already boosted its economic recovery through funds provided by the grant. Co-owner Pat Fischer and his siblings added an outdoor pergola for additional seating and proper social distancing amid COVID safety precautions. The sides of the pergola and heaters quickly became expensive, a cost that could now be waived through the program.

“We received a call from a friend informing us that the city of Grand Rapids economic development department was offering grants,” Fischer said. “We applied immediately — so glad we did. We were informed … that we were approved for funds, which we needed badly.”

More information on the COVID Adaptation Grant Program is at grandrapidsmi.gov/adaptationgrant.

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