Chesterfield's Back in Business program

Small businesses in Chesterfield County that have been hurt by COVID-19 can begin applying for a $10,000 grant next week.

The $5 million Back in Business program, which was created in partnership with the county government and the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce, will fund 500 grants to help businesses recover and reopen.

“This program is really to help [businesses] get an additional leg up so they can thrive,” said Danielle Fitz-Hugh, president and CEO of the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce. “They’ve been crippled by the pandemic, much like the rest of the country.”

Many businesses that were deemed nonessential have seen revenues decline more than 35%, she said.

“I don’t think anyone predicted that the closures and recovery would take as long,” said Karen Aylward, the assistant director of Chesterfield’s economic development department. “So we’re hoping that the timing of this will help those businesses through the next few weeks until we get to the point where they’re all able to do business under this new normal going forward.”

The grants are being created to provide immediate relief for businesses that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 so they can reopen and rehire their employees, she said.

“We started talking about a grant program with the Board of Supervisors and county leadership ... and where we could have the most impact with this funding,” Aylward said. “So we looked at businesses that were stable and sustainable pre-COVID-19, that may have had to shut down, lay off people or scale back operations.”

The grants are funded by money that Chesterfield received through the federal CARES Act. The county’s Economic Development Authority is administering the grant program.

Businesses can apply for a grant online from noon June 15 until noon June 18. Applications had been set to open June 10, but the deadline was pushed back to give businesses more time to prepare.

Applicants must provide a financial statement of impact and other financial documents including copies of their tax returns from the past two years.

To be eligible for the grants, a business must be for-profit, be located in Chesterfield, have operated for at least two years, have annual gross revenues between $200,000 and $2 million and must demonstrate at least a 25% loss in revenue because of COVID-19.

Franchises with headquarters in Chesterfield are eligible to apply. But they can receive only one grant, regardless of how many locations they have in the county.

Businesses can use the funds for employee compensation, working capital, equipment inventory, rent or other critical business operating expenses.

The grants will be awarded in late June. Recipients will be chosen by a random drawing of all eligible and certified applications.

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