TALLMADGE - More than 300 small businesses in Summit County will receive a total of more than $1.5 million in funding through a program created to provide emergency relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

Summit County and the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce recently announced that 311 small businesses in the county will receive funding from the COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program.

In total, the chamber will distribute $1.546 million to small businesses.

Initial funding for the program was provided by Summit County, the city of Akron, JumpStart and Key Bank. Additional funding was provided by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation; private donors; the cities of Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Green, Norton and Tallmadge; Bath Township; Copley Township; Coventry Township; and the village of Mogadore.

The grant program, which Summit County Council approved last month, provides grants of up to $5,000 to small for-profit businesses affected by COVID-19.

Mayor David Kline said 22 businesses in Tallmadge out of 44 who applied received the grants. Of the $108,000 awarded to Tallmadge, $50,000 was donated for the grants from Tallmadge Grow, a Community Improvement Corporation.

Tallmadge had to confirm the applicants were Tallmadge businesses and current on paying city income taxes, Kline said. Of all the applicants, 33 qualified for grants.

"That was the city’s involvement," Kline said. "The Akron Chamber and Summit County went through a long process of vetting."

Office Manager Terri Jordan at Ritchies Sporting Goods, 137 South Ave., said they would use the $5,000 grant for rent.

Gov. Mike DeWine is allowing retail stores to open May 12 with a limit of half capacity or 20 customers, Jordan said. But it takes time to try on shoes and fill out paperwork for letter jackets.

"We’ll have to control the number of people in at a time," she said. "And wipe everything down. Employees also will wear masks."

Ritchies Sporting Goods relied on online sales for school sports, but when the schools were closed and sport activities canceled, they lost revenue. A $1,700 order was recently canceled.

"We were booming in March and then this happened," Jordan said. "We’re open for Little League and fall sports but that’s up in the air."

One thing that has been selling are masks with logos of schools and businesses, she said.

"We’re also doing signs for seniors so that’s keeping us busy but that won’t make up for all we’ve lost," Jordan said.

Harmonize Studios LLC Tallmadge received $3,000 in grant money, said owner Julie Bozic, who asked for less for her smaller business.

Bozic will use the money to help her five employees with payroll and utilities.

"My landlord has been gracious so I haven’t had to pay rent for the last two months," Bozic said.

Harmonize Studios will celebrate its one-year anniversary in May, she said.

"It’s not the best way to spend my year, but you make the best of it," Bozic said.

Typically, 60 students come to the studio per month but now they have 15 to 20 taking lessons through Zoom, she said.

"We’d like to open June 1," Bozic said. "We have a musical camp but who knows. We want to keep instructors and students safe. The studio has been cleaned but we don’t want to take any chances."

Other small businesses in Tallmadge that received grants include All in One Repair; Ben Jones Concrete Construction; El Tren Grill; Green Technologies of Ohio LLC; Husicker Family Dental; Hunts Family Cleaning LLC; Industrial Control Design & Maintenance Inc.; Jimmy John’s; NC Chassis Co. Inc.; Padula’s Body Shop Inc.; Precision Nails; ProCare Painting and Construction; Rodriquez Boxing Club LLC; Sisko Dentistry; and Wire Wizards LLC.

More details about the program

Businesses in operation for at least a year prior to March 15, 2020, with three to 25 employees and more than 50% of their employees residing in Summit County were eligible.

At the application deadline on April 13, there were more than 1,000 applicants, resulting in more than 600 eligible applications that were reviewed by the Grant Underwriting Team.

Fifty-one percent of eligible applicants received grant awards.

"These grants put desperately needed funds into the hands of small businesses bearing the brunt of this economic crisis," Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said.

Eligible expenses include businesses’ mortgage or rent payments, utility payments, health/property/casualty/liability insurance payments and employee salaries or wages.

"Focusing on and maximizing the impact of these dollars on local businesses that create important jobs in our community and are often at a disadvantage in competing for federal funds and access to capital was an important focus of this program," Shapiro said.

Grant recipients had to complete an individual grant agreement and provide other final documentation before receiving the funds.

Most businesses were expected to receive their grant before the end of April.

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman contributed to this story.