Published in Small Business

Kent County small biz relief fund opens second round

BY MIBIZ STAFF Monday, June 29, 2020 03:33pm

A Kent County small business relief program opened its second round of funding today, making grants available to companies that have already received COVID-19 assistance.

The $25 million Kent County Small Business Recovery Program launched last week and is funded from the county’s $114.6 million share of federal CARES Act funds. The first round of funding prioritized businesses that hadn’t yet received pandemic-related assistance.

Dante Villarreal, vice president of business and talent development at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce COURTESY PHOTO

The program has received more than 500 applications from businesses in all Kent County ZIP codes, while 345 were eligible for the first round of funding, officials say.

“Our team is working hard to assist applicants throughout the entire process, to ensure that businesses get the support that they need, as quickly as possible,” Dante Villarreal, vice president of business and talent development at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “The process is simple, and our team of business professionals are here to remove barriers as businesses inquire and apply.”

Kent County officials contracted with the Grand Rapids Chamber to administer the program, which has drawn criticism from local groups calling for more direct investment in minority-owned businesses.

Of the first-round applicants: 30 percent identified as White/Caucasian, 24 percent as Hispanic/Latinx, 16 percent as African American/Black, 15 percent as Asian, and 12 percent as other.

Officials say the program will focus on companies that may face additional barriers including “language, general business knowledge, and those from underserved communities.” 

The short-term grants range from $5,000-$20,000 depending on the size of the business and other metrics.

Businesses that haven’t yet received COVID-19-related aid are still encouraged to apply, as the first round still remains open.

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