Before COVID-19, Greg Pugh from Lunatic Fringe in Sharonville said the hair salon was bursting at the seams.
“We had seven stations downstairs," said Pugh, who is a principal partner in the business. "Fourteen stylists working out of seven stations. We saw that there was a lot of demand."
So, expanding the salon to an adjacent upper level seemed like the logical next step.
“In March, we actually did get it open for two days before we were shut down by the state," he said. "So, we waited out two and a half (months), about nine weeks of the shutdown."
Even though many small businesses have reopened, many are still suffering from lost revenue from when the pandemic shut down non-essential businesses across Ohio.
That's why the city of Sharonville is awarding grants to small businesses that meet certain eligibility requirements. The Sharonville COVID-19 Small Business Relief Program will make available grants from $2,500 to $10,000 for for-profit businesses that are at least 1 year old with 25 employees or less. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, Oct. 21. There's a total of $200,000 available to be distributed.
“We’re hoping that we have more than we know what to do with, we really do. Our goal is to get all of that money distributed,” said Jim Downton, executive director of the Sharonville Convention Center. He is also overseeing the small business relief program.
“I know that our small businesses, our restaurants, our hair salons, our retail outlets, our hotels have been just drastically impacted by COVID-19,” Downton said.
The funding comes from the federal CARES Act being distributed by the state to counties and municipalities.
“The CARES Act dollars need to be spent before the end of the year. So, we have a short window,” Downton said.
He has been visiting Sharonville businesses to make sure they are aware of the available funding and the deadline.
Businesses that qualify for the grants can receive reimbursement for things like rent or mortgage, utilities, personal protective equipment and other equipment purchased to enforce social distancing.
Downton said he knows some businesses have not survived the pandemic, and the idea is to not lose more small establishments.
"We want to make that as a resource," he said. "We provide them with every assistance we can to make sure they’re going to be left standing when this is over.”