Small businesses get COVID-19 relief in private grants, as Verizon boosts support to $7.5M - USA TODAY

Small businesses get COVID-19 relief in private grants, as Verizon boosts support to $7.5M - USA TODAY

Small businesses get COVID-19 relief in private grants, as Verizon boosts support to $7.5M - USA TODAY

Posted: 30 Apr 2020 04:05 AM PDT


Rafael Larios didn't expect Verizon to be a vital ingredient to the survival of his family's Los Angeles area restaurants. 

But since the two restaurants have been relying on deliveries due to the coronavirus pandemic, the family is striving to keep the business cooking. 

The most important thing needed? Cash. "We need to pay our bread guy, we need to pay our pastry guys, we need to catch up on payroll … and we get paid last," says Larios, who has taken over the family business of two Honduras' Kitchen restaurants along with his brother Jonathan.

As assistance has been elusive for many small businesses across the country, some of them – like the Larios family – are looking for answers and support among their business networks and the private sector.

"One of the members of the small business association class my brother and I had taken sent me an email with information" on different assistance programs, added Larios. 

For the Larios, that assistance came in the form of a grant program from Verizon in partnership with the nonprofit nationwide community development groupLocal Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which established the LISC's Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund.

Larios' restaurants in Huntington Park and Long Beach, California, are among the 200 small businesses across the U.S. receiving up to $10,000 in the form of small business grants from the Verizon fund's first round of applicants.

Verizon is bolstering the fund, the telecom giant announced Thursday, adding an additional $2.5 million donation, bringing the total up to "more than a $7.5 million," according to Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon's chief corporate social responsibility officer.

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The fund is offering support to small businesses facing immediate financial threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing especially on historically underserved communities.

"We are looking for small businesses, urban and rural, that size between five to 15 employees. Businesses that are the backbone to their communities," said LISC president and CEO Maurice Jones.

That's the case for DeShanta Black, a beauty boutique owner in Pennington, Alabama, who saw her business (and income) compromised during the pandemic.

"It's really hard trying to get a loan, especially being a woman minority," Black said. "Once COVID-19 came, I started making masks for the community to have some sort of income."

The harsh conditions small business owners face daily extends to their employees, vendors, and their communities, as assistance gets held up.

Larios says that Honduras' Kitchen applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) "two days" after the government made it available to the public and they still "haven't heard anything."

The Small Business Administration program offers firms employing 500 or fewer workers low-interest loans to cover their costs while they're shuttered. But while the SBA has approved billions in loans since April 3, businesses point to a myriad of challenges in the PPP's rollout: technical glitches, an avalanche of requests, a lack of response, and an exhaustion of money.

Jones confirmed that businesses that have received government loans aren't excluded from being selected to receive grants from LISC's Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund. Black, for example, has not applied for the PPP, but did acknowledge it was a question in the application process.

Verizon has also been rallying support for small businesses affected by COVID-19 through its weekly streaming entertainment series "Pay It Forward Live." During the live events, viewers are encouraged to do what they can to support local businesses in their own communities and help spread the word of the program in social media using #PayItForwardLIVE.

Black confirmed that social channels were the key for her. "I was scrolling on Facebook and someone had posted it. And I just applied for (the grant) to see if it was legit," she said.

For each use of the hashtag, Verizon will donate $10, up to $2.5 million, to support small businesses.

When it comes to those businesses in rural areas, Black acknowledged that "the main thing is that we can't wait for opportunities to fall in our lap and we have to get out there and research."

Small businesses owners interested in applying for a grant can visit Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund.

Contributing: Paul Davidson and Ledyard King

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BBB's 'Main Street Matters' offering grants to small businesses during pandemic - AZFamily

Posted: 29 Apr 2020 07:25 PM PDT

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - If you haven't been able to get PPP or EIDL loans from the feds, or if you're too big to qualify for small business grants in the Valley, then Main Street Matters is for you. It's a grant program the Better Business Bureau just announced last week that's now open for applications.

"We wanted to create a program that would help small business owners at this time – especially those who are basically falling through the cracks," said Kimberly Roland, Director of Entrepreneur Programs for the BBB.

The nonprofit is trying to fill the gaps by offering grants from $500 to $1,000. In the first 4 hours of Main Street Matters, 140 businesses applied. There's more to it than just the money. BBB wants to pair businesses up in a mentor-like scenario.

"Be it consulting, technical support, other in-kind resources," Roland said.

Sarah Spencer is a graphic facilitator. Her one-person business, 26 Letters Studio, makes illustrative videos to simplify concepts for presentations. She plans on applying to Main Street Matters this week, and if she's awarded one of the grants, she'll use it for consultants.

"It feels like working with the federal government is really overwhelming because there's just millions upon millions of people so I feel like a very tiny fish in a huge pond," she said. "But [with the BBB], they feel like family. And so I feel like their offer here is literally like asking my dad for a loan."

The BBB hopes to grow the size and number of grants over the next 4 months. "There are lots of confusing applications out there so we're trying to make this as streamlined and simple as possible for business owners," Roland said.

This applications are open to a wide range of businesses across Arizona. You don't have to be accredited with the BBB to apply, but your business does need to be in good standing with them. For more details, and to apply for Main Street Matters, click HERE.

Two Harbors will distribute small business relief grants - Lake County News Chronicle

Posted: 30 Apr 2020 11:05 AM PDT

The council unanimously authorized using $40,000 from the city's revolving loan fund to establish the assistance program for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council held a special meeting on Wednesday, April 29, to establish guidelines for the program.

"This is a pot of funding from the (Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board) that was sitting there for maybe 10 years as a revolving loan fund," said city finance director Miranda Pietilla. "There is currently $60,000 in the fund and we're authorizing use of $40,000 for this crisis."

Pietilla also shared that the Two Harbors Development Fund had authorized a match of $40,000 to the program, raising the funds available to $80,000.

The program will provide direct grants to people who own small businesses within the city limits. To qualify, businesses must affirm they intend to remain open or to reopen, demonstrate financial need, have taken steps to access other resources and programs and not be a franchise. Eligible businesses can qualify for a grant up to $2,000 that can be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses.

City staff will review applications and recommend approval of grants to the city council, which will award the funds. As funds are limited, applicants will be evaluated as they are submitted until funds are fully committed.

Grant applications will be available on the city's website and staff will be available to offer assistance via phone if there are questions. Grant applications are due May 5, and the city council will hold a special meeting May 7 to approve the first round of grants.

"I love the spirit of this," said councilor Jackie Rennwald. "I love that we're going to be able to help these businesses who make Two Harbors what it is."

Councilor Ben Redden agreed with Rennwald and added his thanks to city staff members for their work in creating the program with short notice.

"I know as a small business owner myself, this relief is going to be a welcome addition," Redden said.

To see the full requirements and application, visit

COVID-19 press conference updates small business grants, unemployment and TestIowa - KCRG

Posted: 30 Apr 2020 10:08 AM PDT

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa Economic Development Director Debi Durham announced that small business relief grants have increased funding to $24 million to assist more than 1,200 business owners.

Durham said that as of Thursday, a total of more than 2,600 restaurants, breweries, florists, salons, boutiques, gyms and other small businesses from all of Iowa's 99 counties have been awarded small business relief grants for a total of around $50 million.

Durham said that several thousand eligible businesses still remain in the applicant pool, but the department is continuing to make award notifications on an ongoing basis.

A list of grant recipients is available and is updated daily.

These announcements came during Gov. Kim Reynolds' Thursday COVID-19 press conference, along with updates on the number of COVID-19 patients in the state and updates on unemployment in the state.

Gov. Reynolds said officials are in the process of validating the accuracy of the testing process used with TestIowa, which is located at the State Hygienic Lab.

TestIowa was announced during an April 21 press conference.

Reynolds says for now TestIowa is focused on people who have taken the online test, whereas TestUtah is open to everyone in the state of Utah. Reynolds says she hopes Iowa will get to that point too, once the state moves beyond the validation process with the tests going to the State Hygienic Lab.

Despite being in a process of validating TestIowa, Reynolds says officials are confident that results from the tests are accurate.

With 77 counties beginning to see loosened restrictions on Friday, Reynolds encouraged personal responsibility and the continuation of social distancing guidelines, even in areas where restrictions are loosening.

Iowa Workforce Development also warned that workers who refuse to return to work after being temporarily laid off, without a valid excuse, would have their unemployment benefits terminated. Those employees would be considered to have voluntarily quit. Click here to read more.


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