$1.5 million in grants going to 300 Summit County small businesses

More than 300 small businesses in Summit County will receive a total of more than $1.5 million in funding through a program created to provide emergency relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

Summit County and the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that 311 small businesses in the county will receive funding from the COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program.

In total, the chamber will distribute $1.546 million to small businesses.

Initial funding for the program was provided by Summit County, the city of Akron, JumpStart and Key Bank. Additional funding was provided by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation; private donors; the cities of Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Green, Norton and Tallmadge; Bath Township; Copley Township; Coventry Township; and the village of Mogadore.

The grant program, which Summit County Council approved last month, provides grants of up to $5,000 to small for-profit businesses affected by COVID-19.

Businesses in operation for at least a year prior to March 15, 2020, with three to 25 employees and more than 50% of their employees residing in Summit County were eligible.

At the application deadline on April 13, there were more than 1,000 applicants, resulting in more than 600 eligible applications that were reviewed by the Grant Underwriting Team.

Fifty-one percent of eligible applicants received grant awards.

“These grants put desperately needed funds into the hands of small businesses bearing the brunt of this economic crisis,” Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said.

Eligible expenses include businesses’ mortgage or rent payments, utility payments, health/property/casualty/liability insurance payments and employee salaries or wages.

Grant recipients represent 24 of the county’s 31 communities, with 47% of recipients categorized as disadvantaged businesses.

About 85% of the businesses receiving grants employ between three and 15 people, and 46% of the businesses are in low to moderate-income census tracts.

“Focusing on and maximizing the impact of these dollars on local businesses that create important jobs in our community and are often at a disadvantage in competing for federal funds and access to capital was an important focus of this program,” Shapiro said.

Grant recipients will have to complete an individual grant agreement and provide other final documentation before receiving the funds.

Most businesses should receive their grant before the end of April.

This story originally appeared on BeaconJournal.com on April 23, 2020.

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