Newport wants to help small businesses hit by pandemic pay their rent

dresser up vintage.jpg
Posted at 4:25 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 20:53:28-04

NEWPORT, Ky. — City officials hope a new emergency business assistance program will help locally-owned shops cover rent and other ongoing expenses as the coronavirus pandemic stretches on.

Wendy Critcher owns Dresser Up Vintage Boutique, one of dozens of small businesses lining Monmouth Street. She said her sales have dropped by 75% since cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, began to spread in March.

"So stressful, so many ups and downs," Critcher told WCPO.

On top of the blow to her business, the boutique also did not receive any federal aid from the recent CARES Act stimulus bill passed by Congress.

"That was devastating," she said.

She hopes the city's emergency business assistance program can step in and help where the federal government hasn't yet. The program will dole out $500 grants to assist with monthly rent and mortgage payments.

Just down Monmouth Street, Joy Galbraith serves as creative director at Costume Gallery. She estimates her business has dropped by 90%.

"Five hundred dollars for a small business, I like it," she said. "I can't imagine anyone on the street would go, 'I don't want that.'"

With tight margins, every little bit will help, she said.

"If you can pay your rent, you can maybe keep the lights on, at least... And the sewing machines going."

Newport is currently accepting pre-applications for the assistance program. The city of Covington has already initiated a similar program.