Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development on Tuesday chose 400 of the county’s smallest businesses at random to win $5,000 grants, totaling $2 million from the county’s COVID-19 Business Interruption Fund.
The fund was created in May after a previous round of grants distributed $1.4 million to businesses, selecting 201 grant winners at random from among a pool of qualified applicants. The 201 randomly selected grant winners were also only a fraction of the businesses that made qualifying applications, but the infusion of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act money in May allowed the county to later make grants to every qualifying applicant.
However, those grants were limited to businesses with three or more employees, excluding sole proprietorships and businesses with only one or two employees.
To be eligible in the second round, applicants had able to show that they had less than $2.5 million in gross annual receipts, had at least a 25 percent loss in revenue attributable to COVID-19, and were an appropriately licensed, for-profit business that was operational in Loudoun County. Winners were picked by a random drawing at the Loudoun County government center in Leesburg. Grants will be disbursed starting next week.
“Nearly 1,100 Loudoun businesses have a better chance of survival thanks to the proactive response of the Board of Supervisors and Economic Development Authority,” stated Loudoun Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer. “The combined $6.85 million in grants will go a long way toward protecting Loudoun jobs and rebuilding our economic future.”
One of those recipients is StageCoach Theater Company LLC.
“We at StageCoach Theatre appreciate how Loudoun County Economic Development has the interests of our small business community at heart,” stated co-owner and executive producer Jerri Wiseman. “Since we use contractors, our options for COVID relief grants and loans were extremely limited. This grant will go towards covering our rent and instructor pay. It is money well spent by the county as small businesses will continue to support others in the community.”
Clarisse Bethel, Program Director at Clarys Nurse Aide Training Center, said the money will be used toward operational expenses.
“This grant will impact my business by helping me to make office rent payments and repaying some obligations such as my payroll,” Bethel said.
Eddie Mason, founder and CEO of MASE Training, said he sees a promising revival for the business that he and his wife, Sonya, run together.
“We were overjoyed from the fact that we truly needed it, after having to close our doors due to the impact of the coronavirus on our business,” Mason said.“To now have business interruption funds that will help us bring some of our staff back and pay for operational expenses has truly been a blessing.”
County supervisors created the COVID-19 Business Interruption Fund in April, dedicating $1.15 million with another $250,000 pitched in from the Economic Development Authority. When the CARES Act funding came, supervisors put $5.7 million into the fund, including approximately $3.7 million of which went to grants for every eligible applicant in the previous round of grants that was not among those picked by random drawing in the first round of grants.
A full list of grant recipients can be found atLoudounBusinessFund.org.