GALION — Businesses in Crawford County have received a measure of financial relief ahead of the new year.
The Galion-Crestline Area and Bucyrus Area chambers of commerce awarded $800,000 worth of grants to 177 local businesses, thanks to funding made available by the Crawford County Commissioners through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law on March 27, 2020.
Commissioners also provided $400,000 to The Community Foundation for Crawford County which will in turn provide grants to non-profit entities. Foundation President Lisa Workman said non-profit organizations receiving grants will be announced soon.
Miranda Jones, executive director of the Galion-Crestline Area Chamber of Commerce, said the two chambers of commerce received a total of 179 grant applications from Dec. 7-17.
“We treated the process like it was one big pool of funds,” Jones said, citing the partnership in the Small Business Relief Grant Program with Bucyrus Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jessie Furner. “Even though each chamber got $400,000, the intent the entire time was to collaborate and work together and make it an entire Crawford County project. … Being able to put $800,000 back into our community is huge.”
Grant amounts awarded to recipients ranged from $2,000 to $10,000, Jones said. She noted that 88 Bucyrus area and 67 Galion area businesses were awarded grants. Another 19 grants were given to Crestline area businesses.
“It’s sad that there’s been that many businesses that have been affected by the pandemic that they felt compelled to take a chance and apply for the grants,” Jones said. “I’ve had people come to pick their check up in tears because they didn’t think they were going to last another month. That money is going to help them pay their mortgage that is past due, or their utility bills that are past due. It’s going to help them make the changes that they need to so they can safely reopen.”
Jones said she and Furner conducted a rigorous process of determining whether applicants were qualified for the program.
“We did have to look at tax returns and we had to look at payroll reports,” Jones said. “We would look the businesses up on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website and we would also look at a site where we could find out if they had a valid Ohio vendor’s license. … We took into account how long they’d been closed, because a lot of industries were closed longer than others. For example, beauty salons, nail salons, places like that, they were hurt while they tried to figure the rules and regulations that were going to come through for reopening.
“We took into account the amount of other funding they received. Some businesses received PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and they do have a rather large payroll, but they’re still considered a small business,” Jones added. “That put them at a different score than someone who didn’t get anything or someone who had taken the EIDL loan (Economic Injury Disaster Loans) or Galion Port Authority loan.”
Jones said they also took into consideration whether businesses had to make physical alterations to their facilities in order to comply with Ohio Department of Health regulations.
In the process of researching each applicant, Jones said she and Furner made an interesting discovery.
“I thought it was funny that (Lt. Gov.) Jon Husted reported that we had the most new business filings ever in 2020,” Jones said. “In this process, we realized it’s probably because you had all these businesses that have never actually been registered. And because they haven’t been registered, they haven’t been eligible for anything. So that number probably looks inflated because these are businesses that have been around for a long time, but to be eligible we had to verify them. Same thing with state funds, too.
“You probably had more businesses register that have been in business for a while than people who actually, in the middle of a pandemic, decided to open a coffee shop, for example. It kind of connected some dots for me.”
Jones said she and other business executives in Crawford County hope more funding for local businesses will be available in the near future, but they’ll have to wait and see what transpires as the new year unfolds.
“It wasn’t disclosed to us how much CARES Act money the commissioners still had or if anything would still be available,” she said. “I know that a lot of government entities are banking on the fact now that the Dec. 31, 2020 deadline to spend those CARES Act dollars got extended. The need is great here in Crawford County to help our businesses, so if there is any other funding, we will gladly do another round of grants, if possible.”
For information about the Galion-Crestline Area Chamber of Commerce, contact Miranda Jones at 519-468-7737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the Bucyrus Area Chamber of Commerce, contact Jessie Furner at 419-562-4811 or email email@example.com.
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