MONTGOMERY, Alabama (WSFA) – Help may be on the way for small businesses in the Montgomery area struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce has created a grant initiative called the Recover Together Small Business Relief Fund. The fund is designed to provide one-time grants, typically ranging from $ 3,000 to $ 5,000, to small businesses in the Montgomery area when they continue or resume operations after COVID-19.
“The largest employer of employees in the Montgomery area are the many small businesses we have. Said Lora McClendon, chief of staff for the Montgomery Region Chamber of Commerce. “Everything from our restaurants to our barbers to our delivery services, that’s it. Every service you interact with on a daily basis. It’s the whole structure of who we are, the whole structure of our economy, without our small businesses, not only would we be very different as a community from what makes us special, but it would be really hard for the day of – the day-to-day activities we all take for granted are actually happening. Lots of different family businesses, lots of different businesses that can have 10 to 25 employees, that’s a huge number of employers in our region.
Small businesses make up about 75 percent of the chamber’s membership. This fund aims to help as many of them as possible to stay afloat.
“Small businesses have been hit particularly hard, especially in our hospitality and retail space. I know a lot of our lounges have been hit very hard. All of these services that involve serving people in close contact with customers. “said McClendon.
McClendon says the chamber saw it as its mission to obtain information to support the community with prescription updates and public health resources.
“If there are best practices put in place by organizations that specialize in a specific area like human resources or finance, we want to make sure that we make them available on a consolidated basis,” McClendon added.
“You just need to show a need,” says John Steiner, member of the fund committee. “How did this affect your income? How has this affected your ability to serve your customer? How has this affected your ability to pay your employees? How did it affect you? “
For the purposes of the Recover Together Small Business Fund, a small business is defined as a business that employs 25 or fewer workers. The window to apply for one of these grants is open from June 1 to June 15. Those who wish to apply can find the application here.
“We will try to determine the needs based on what is displayed in the app. Some will be affected more than others,” Steiner said. “But we also have this mandate to get as many as possible.”
Money for the fund was provided by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and other businesses and organizations in the area who have made and continue to donate.
“We hope if we get enough donations from other business owners who have the ability to do it, but we can do a second round, a third round, continue this thing, as long as people donate to it. money, ”Steiner said. .
This fund is one of many measures taken by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce to help small businesses weather this pandemic. He created the Small Business Center in April.
“There is a dedicated phone line that you can call, as a small business owner, and speak directly with a specialist who can put you in touch with resources, tell you what kind of relief is there for you, talk a bit. help with loan programs, help identify certain loan programs, ”McClendon explained. “If you need more technical assistance, like talking about your business strategy or maybe even getting tax advice, or things like that, we have advisors who are on the bridge to be referrals for that kind of thing. service. We wanted to provide a dedicated resource and an easy resource.
The Small Business division has already advised around 125 companies.
“The top three issues that we got were inquiries about access to finance, help with emergency funding, how to access emergency loan programs, that sort of thing. So we quickly realized that we really needed to create something at Montgomery that really focused on providing really quick and flexible relief to your small business community.
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