Ohio grant aims to help small businesses struggling during pandemic

Coronavirus

LYNDHURST, Ohio (WJW)– Relief is on the way for some of Ohio’s small business struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

As coronavirus cases show no sign of a downward trend, it’s only increasing the worry of local business owners like Krista Long, of Ben Franklin and MindFair Books in Oberlin. 

“I am very worried about the holiday season and especially as we see the numbers in Ohio spiking in our county. We’re back up to red,” Long said.

Starting Monday, there’s a potential life-line business owners with up to 25 employees can apply for called the Small Business Relief Grant. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine designated $125 million in state funding from the federal CARES Act, which will provide a $10,000-grant to business owners who apply and are found eligible. 

“A lot of business owners need this money and frankly, they need even more,” said Marty McGann, the executive vice president of advocacy and strategy at the Greater Cleveland Partnership. 

“We know there’s going to be 12,500 grants total. That’s the maximum amount of money in terms of how much funding is available and how many grant applications can be awarded,” he said.

Raymond Brownlee, owner of Big B’s Bar-B-Que in Lyndhurst, said he won’t apply for the grant.

“We’ve been pretty blessed here,” Brownlee said. “Over the coronavirus, our business has kind of picked up to a point where it’s starting to take care of itself.”

“I still have good and bad months, but I think for me to take that money from somebody who may need it wouldn’t be right. We’re doing OK. I mean we’re not setting the world on fire, but we’re keeping the lights on and a lot of businesses aren’t.”

CARES Act funding also provided $38.7 million for Ohio’s on-premise liquor permit holders through the Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund. It’s expected to help more than 15,400 licensees and begins accepting applications Monday.

“Actually, you can get in for both programs. That’s been a question that we’ve addressed from some of the folks in the restaurant industry,” McGann said. “Can I get in for both? Can I try to get one of these small business grants and also get access to this restaurant and bar funding? You can get access to both.”

McGann said demand for the grants will likely surpass supply and encouraged businesses owners to have their necessary documents in order.

“I did apply for the PPP loan in the spring as an essential store we were able to stay open, but our sales were so rock-bottom,” Long said.

As for the state grants, she said she will apply.

“I’m not sure that $10,000 is anything more than kind of a nice little a drop in the bucket,” Long said.

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