A series dedicated to highlighting the great work economic development organizations
and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders are doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
City of Westbrook, ME
The City of Westbrook, Maine has developed a Small Business Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program to provide immediate assistance to small businesses facing hardship during these times. While many COVID related responses focus on employment, this program helps to fill much needed gaps in funding for local businesses.
Downtown Brattelboro, VT
Fancy, musical hand washing stations along Main Street? Yes please! Check out the Downtown Brattelboro FaceBook page and the Human Connection Project site to learn how Open Artful Streets centers artists in the designing of safe, vibrant and creative solutions to enhance and encourage social and commercial activity.
The State of South Carolina launched accelerateSC as a one-stop-shop for resources pertaining to COVID-19. The site includes latest developments, information, and other resources for business re-opening and revitilization. AccelerateSC is helping to create a culture and brand around the response in the state and even shares stories of individual businesses.
City of Hudson, NY
The City of Hudson, with the assistance of Columbia Economic Development Corporation, is supporting small businesses through issuing community bonds. This local initiative helps to provide grants to help businesses make ends meet during the shutdown and provide a base of sales for reopening. For more information visit: https://visithudsonny.com/hudson-bond/
City of Saco, ME
In order to help Saco businesses impacted by Covid-19, the City’s Planning & Economic Development Department has established a Covid-19 Emergency Loan Fund. This new fund will offer loans of up to $10,000 for Saco businesses and non-profits with 500 employees or less. To help support businesses as quickly as possible, the review and application process has been streamlined, all payments will be deferred for six months, and 50% of the loan may be forgiven after five years.
Funds for this program come from the City’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District revenues. We love a great use of TIF funds!
Greene County, NY
When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, Greene County was in the process of updating its economic development strategy. As they pivoted to provide emergency support for businesses and the economy, the central initiatives within the strategy are guiding immediate, near-term and longer-term actions for economic response and recovery.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Greene County launched a comprehensive economic and business development response and recovery initiative:
- An online business resource center with links to resources and guidelines, updated daily with the most current information available and distributed on multiple communications platforms.
- An emergency loan fund to assist negatively affected local businesses
- A special Buy In Greene ‘Open During the Pause’ Campaign connecting consumers to searchable online listings of local businesses providing goods and services during the pandemic
- A Reopening After the Pause online survey of over 650 Greene County Businesses resulting in A comprehensive Industry Sector breakdown of responses was provide to NYS in advance of their issuance of guidance for re-opening by region.
- Accelerated investment and expansion of their Virtual Main Street program featuring aerial views, street level video and 360 virtual tours of local businesses and community assets on BuyInGreene.com
Loudoun County, VA
As the Covid-19 Crisis hit, Loudoun County, VA jumped into action and raised a total of $1.4 million to create two COVID-19 Business Interruption Funds:
- General Business Fund: The $1.215 million grant dedicated to the general fund is divided so that businesses with 3-50 employees will be randomly selected for a $7,500 grant and businesses with 51-100 employees will be randomly selected for a $10,000 grant.
- Agriculture-Based Business Fund: The Board of Supervisors and Loudoun Economic Development Authority made an additional $185,000 fund available for grants of $5,000 for Loudoun’s agriculture-based businesses that may not otherwise be eligible for the general fund.
Loudoun also launched a brand new podcast that focuses on Loudoun business innovation, resources and news related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Business owners, partner organizations and thought leaders are invited to share their experiences and their vision for the future for the region.
City of Syracuse, NY
The City of Syracuse jumped into action through the Syracuse Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) and established a $500,000 fund to provide zero-interest, 6 month emergency loans to small businesses across City. The loans will offer up to $25,000 for businesses to cover immediate crisis costs and weather the economic impacts of the COVID crisis. The loan purposefully allows for uses that may not be covered in other federal funds from the Small Business Administration or other agencies. In addition to the loan fund, the City also eliminated fees for on-street parking to enable easier access for patrons picking up meals from downtown restaurants who are offering take-out meals. The application form, instructions and FAQ's can be found here: www.syrgov.net/SEDCO.
Tallahassee/Leon County Office of Economic Vitality is taking a combined detailed tactical approach within a comprehensive approach to the COVID-19 crises. All culminating in a crisp, easy-to-access webpage highlighting their information and services to assist businesses and entrepreneurs. These include:
- COVID-19 Economic Disaster Relief (CEDR) Grant Program - Designed to offer a lifeline to local small for-profit businesses of less than 50 employees by providing up to a $5,000 grant to support continuity of business operations. Totaling $1 million, the program is meant to serve as a bridge to other state and federal programs.
- “Open for Take-Out” – Interactive GIS map tracking and providing access to restaurant and food services open for takeout. This is based on their "Open for Business” platform developed in response to Hurricane Michael.
- COVID-19 Business Survey – Set up to gather and develop rapid responses and support business throughout the crisis.
- COVID-19 Business Resource Guide – Full guide to services and resources.
What makes this a best practice is the speed to which it was developed and deployed, the accessibility and usability of the site, and the comprehensiveness of the services being provided. More at oevforbusiness.org.
In addition to creating a custom list of disaster assistance resources for their business community, the Town of Groton economic development and planning staff curates a Restaurant Update page on their website that lists the restaurants in the town that are open with hours, contact information, and links to websites and Facebook pages.
If your community or a community you know is rising to the challenge, we want to celebrate with you. Email Christa at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll feature the great work in a future edition of Communities Rising to the Challenge.