In the five days since its unveiling by the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, a grant program to assist small businesses struggling to reopen in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic has received strong response.
Called the Momentum Small Business Recovery Fund, the initiative — which is a collaboration between the Chamber and community — is offering grants ranging from $500 to $2,500 to applicants that meet the full slate of criteria.
Application deadline is Monday, June 1.
“We’ve received positive interest and support in the community following the initial Momentum Small Business Recovery Fund announcement,” said Mike Griffin, Chamber president and CEO. “The purpose of these grants is to assist local Bradley County small businesses as they work to open their doors during this pandemic.”
As the Chamber fields calls, emails and personal messages about the assistance program, the business-friendly organization is wasting no time developing the internal infrastructure necessary to conduct the first-time initiative.
“We are currently forming a committee of engaged local citizens and business leaders to participate in the grants-review process,” Griffin explained. “Our goal is to have a healthy list of small-business recipients who will begin to receive funding assistance from these grants by mid-June.”
Griffin pointed to the importance of applicants understanding the set of criteria that governs which businesses might qualify for grant assistance, and those that might not.
The criteria include:
• Only locally or independently owned businesses will be considered.
• Chamber membership is not required, but welcomed.
• Preferred use of funds is for reopening expenses, but this is not a mandated requirement.
• Small grants will be awarded to as many companies as possible.
• Grant amounts awarded will range from $500 to $2,500.
• The Momentum Small Business Recovery Fund allocations committee will consider one grant per federal Tax ID number.
• Grant applications must be completed in their entirety, with requested documentation, in order to be considered.
• The Momentum Recovery committee may arrange a call with a business to conduct further investigation after a grant application has been completed and received.
• The business will be notified by email whether or not its application will receive funding.
• Grants will be distributed by check once the award is accepted by the company.
• Due to the anticipated large volume of requests, the Momentum Recovery Fund may be unable to grant every proposal.
• Applicants should understand that rejection of a proposal in no way suggests rejection of the organization.
“It is my hope the majority of funds will go to aid these businesses in getting back on their feet and help open up the economy in our community,” Griffin said.
In 2019, the Chamber celebrated attaining an exhaustive fundraising goal for the Momentum Capital Campaign. The public/private program was developed to expand and accelerate community and economic development in Cleveland and Bradley County.
Mike Thomasson, Chamber board chair and Cleveland senior president of Andrew Johnson Bank, said the campaign’s proceeds are a prime fit for the kind of need created by the COVID-19 lockdown.
“The Chamber and our board of directors decided to dedicate a portion of these funds to aid the small businesses in our community as they recover, and in some cases reopen, during the COVID-19 crisis,” Thomasson explained. “It is our desire to support small businesses and sole proprietors in the Cleveland and Bradley County community.”
Griffin pointed to a handful of key reminders about the Chamber’s Recovery Fund: One, the application deadline which is Monday, June 1; two, the grant program is intended for Cleveland and Bradley County small businesses; and three, applications must be completed in their entirety.
To learn more on how to complete, and submit, a Momentum Small Business Recovery Fund application, visit www.ClevelandChamber.com
Griffin also credited local news media outlets for helping to spread the word about the grant-assistance initiative.
“The Chamber appreciates the Cleveland Daily Banner and Mix 104.1 WCLE for helping to increase overall awareness throughout our community for this crucial funding project,” the Chamber CEO said.