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Small business grants help small, local businesses shoulder COVID-19 burden

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 19:15:53-04

HAMILTON COUNTY — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and spike in Hamilton County, small, local businesses have continued to feel the pinch. It's because of this that Hamilton County has awarded around $1.5 million to local small businesses through its "small business relief grant."

This money was provided to Hamilton County through the federal CARES Act. Hamilton County has chosen to allocate it to help small business owners shoulder the burdens brought on by the pandemic, by covering things like mortgage payments or rent.

"It hasn't been easy, but we haven't given up hope," said Nzingha Byrd, owner of Sweet Sistah Splash Cultural Center. Her business is designed to be a cultural space, but the pandemic has put a hard stop to many of her lines of income.

Byrd had to pay rent for her business' space out of pocket, and work with her landlord until she received word she had been awarded money through Hamilton County's small business relief grant.

"It's a huge deal," said Byrd. "It just takes that burden off my shoulders."

Sweet Sistah Splash is one of about 200 local businesses granted funding. Of those, around 80 of the businesses are minority-owned and 90 are women-owned. Around 12 are veteran-owned. On average, businesses received around $8,000 to help stay afloat.

"We tried to hone in, very small, those that didn't have the ability to win an award from the federal government for the PPP," said Denise Driehaus, Hamilton County Commissioner.

To be eligible, businesses could not have received any money or aid from the federal government, and needed to have fewer than 50 employees. These criteria could change, as the county prepares to issue a second round of grants.

"We know the need is there," said Stephanie Summerow Dumas, Hamilton County Commissioner.

The second round of grants will be given out in the next few weeks. The county said it's working to expand who is eligible, so more business owners can apply and benefit from the grants.

"Keep your eyes open and act fast," said Byrd. "If any funding becomes available, make sure you're checking online."