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New grant fund set up to aid local businesses

SoVaNow.com / September 28, 2020
A newly created business recovery fund offers local companies up to $10,000 to retool operations and adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, covering expenses that can include cleaning supplies, plexiglass shields and rent and mortgage payments.

The Halifax County Small Business Recovery Assistance Fund (SBRAF), which the Town of South Boston is administering under contract with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), is open to county businesses that choose to apply through the grant process. Grant funding will be considered for businesses that can show how the money will be used to retool operations and adapt to new technology, and those seeking help with expenses already incurred due to the pandemic.

“Funds may be issued for items you’ve bought to get your business going again in the covid world — sanitation supplies, plexiglass, computers, contactless payment systems” and other expenditures, said Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston.

The maximum benefit available through the recovery assistance fund is $10,000. The program offers reimbursement grants which will require business operators to submit receipts for repayment.

The maximum award for retooling and technology activities is $5,000. Businesses seeking help to cover rent and mortgage expenses are eligible for awards up to $10,000, provided the business has not received separate funding for technology and retooling.

Businesses that received forgivable loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration PPP (Payroll Protection Program) funding pool are eligible to apply for the SBRAF money. However, businesses cannot “double dip” to pay expenses already covered through the PPP program, such as rent and mortgage bills.

For example, if a business paid May and June rent with PPP money, it cannot apply for local recovery funding to pay the same May and June rent bills. However, the business can seek funding to pay rent in other months.

Hundreds of Halifax County businesses received PPP loans in the spring to cover payroll and other qualifying expenses, but those funds have since been spent under the terms of the program.

Some 289 companies in South Boston, Halifax, Clover, Alton, Vernon Hill, Scottsburg and Virgilina received loans of $150,000 or less through the PPP fund. Larger borrowers — receiving loans of more than $150,000 — included 22 companies in the Town of South Boston and four in other parts of Halifax County.

The largest local recipient of PPP money was R.O. Harrell Trucking, which received a loan between $1 million and $2 million, according to the SBA.

Through the Halifax County SBRAF, the Town of South Boston will help businesses establish safe and clean re-opening procedures, in accordance with state public health guidance. Funds will allow businesses to regain and sustain operations, ideally helping them retain existing staff, fill vacant positions, create new jobs, and become more efficient and resilient.

Grant assistance to small businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19 will be offered in the form of space and technology upgrades, sanitation supplies, job training/technical assistance, and rent/mortgage assistance. Applicants must have a Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number in order to apply.

Directions on how to apply are provided in the application. Applications can be downloaded online at https://downtownsobo.com/halifax-recovery-fund/

“These funds probably won’t run out super-fast, and I will help anyone through the process,” said Vest.

Also this week, Destination Downtown South Boston received a $25,000 Downtown Improvement Grant (DIG) for Small Business Recovery purposes. The DIG required a match, and the Town of South Boston provided $12,500. Eligibility requirements for DIG Grant funds include: businesses must be located in Downtown South Boston, attend “What’s Up Downtown” monthly merchant meetings, and attend three Small Business Recovery Workshops with topics focusing on “Business Life During and After COVID,” and “Have a COVID Impact.”

In April, as the pandemic took a major toll on businesses, the Town of South Boston launched a Small Business Emergency Loan Fund (SBELF). 28 businesses in the Town of South Boston received $126,000 in loans.

Destination Downtown South Boston received a $15,000 Small Business Support Relief & Recovery Initiative Grant to tie in with the SBELF program. If the business accepting the loan was in downtown, it got a $1,000 grant. 17 businesses were funded, for a total grant distribution of $17,000.

“One citizen donated $600 of his stimulus money, and Wister’s has been donating proceeds from sales of ‘So Bo Strong’ travel mugs, so we were able to fund more than 15 businesses,” said Vest.

For additional questions contact Vest at 434-575-4209 or email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). More information can be found on their website https://downtownsobo.com/



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