Grants totaling $25,000 have been awarded to 12 local minority and women-owned businesses. The Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County provided the grants with funding support from the Community Foundation of St. Clair County Covid-19 Thumbcoast Regional Response Fund.
“We just want to say that we are so grateful for this grant and appreciate it very much! The uncertainty of the future of our business was very real when this all began, and it was slow going for awhile,” said Chris and Deb Bevins of Bangkok Star. “We are very proud of our community! People came out and supported us even during these very difficult times. It is because of our wonderful community that we are still here!”
“Minority entrepreneurs do not have the same access to wealth and investment, whether it be from family or financial institutions, as their non-minority counterparts,” said Jazmyn Thomas, Chair of the Community Foundation Equity and Inclusion Committee. “We hope that the efforts of the Community Foundation and EDA are one small part of the solution to help level the playing field for minority business owners.”
This grant funding complements the work of the Community Foundation’s equity and inclusion committee who hired two consultants to work one-on-one with business owners to apply for available resources. Almost 60 businesses have connected with the consultants, Kanchan Wankhede and Shannon Schwabe, including many of the award recipients who used the consultant’s assistance to put critical business documents together to be eligible for funding.
Among the grant recipients are several salon and daycare owners. Given the prolonged closure of salons and the uncertainty of safe re-opening for daycare providers, their businesses have been especially hard hit.
Owner of Swerve Barber & Beauty, Rufus Brown, said, “”You don’t know what a blessing this is. The grant money will be used for a variety of expenses due. I’m just waiting for the governor to give us the thumbs up to open. We had about 15 client calls today asking if we’re open.”
“I just want to say thank you so much for this great experience, it has really truly helped my center tremendously,” said Brigitte Haller, owner of Aristotle Learning Childcare Center. “The grant helps me buy the cleaning supplies needed to re-open my center and so much more, that way I can continue to do what I love, which is taking care of these amazing children.”
Rosa Thomason, owner of NuNu’s Nursery said, “I’m grateful; it’s the answer to prayer and a blessing. When I’m at full capacity I have 29 employees and I went from almost 90 children daily to only 6-10 kids a day. But I was determined to stay open. This grant will help me purchase much needed PPE and extra sanitization supplies.”
“The Community Foundation and EDA will continue to support and promote minority owned businesses,” said Hale Walker, Vice Chair of the Community Foundation. “We are happy to announce that continued support starts with funding provided to the new Huron Food Fleet, which includes the popular and extremely tasty Jamaican Jerk owned by Mark Pack.”
Supporting local small business has always been important. But now more than ever as community members venture back out of their homes, supporting our local small business owners can be essential for rebuilding the finances of our businesses that needed to close for weeks or months. We encourage the community to support local, including the grant award recipients below.
Grant Awardees and Award Amounts:
For more information on the EDA or to apply for other business assistance available, visit: www.edascc.com