HUDSON — Two business owners in the city said they feel "very fortunate" and "very thankful" that they received grant money from a special program set up to provide financial assistance to companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sandy Millsaps, owner of Fine Reflections Salon, 5834 Darrow Road, and Cindy Nygaard, owner of Vignettes Inc, 140 N. Main St., both said they are planning to use the money from the COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program for rent and utility expenses. They are two of six Hudson businesses that received the grants. The others are:
1. Environments by Design LLC, 30 Ravenna St.: Company provides design services for renovations of, and additions to residential and small commercial properties. The firm also does construction management for the build out of their design.
2. Kumon Math and Reading Center of Hudson, 5843 Darrow Rd Suite # 1: Provides after-school tutoring for K-12 students.
3. Nosh Creative Catering, 5929 Darrow Road #2: A full-service events catering company providing farm to table food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, weddings and fundraisers.
4. TTL Systems Inc.: Offers technology consulting for the trucking industry.
Summit County and the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce recently announced that 311 small businesses in the county will receive funding from the emergency relief 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 in March, provides grants of up to $5,000 to small for-profit businesses affected by COVID-19.
"It is a great help [to receive the funds]," said Nygaard, who noted her business, Vignettes Inc., has been closed since March 16. "I am very thankful that they were able to do that."
She said she does not know the precise amount that her company is receiving.
Nygaard added that receiving the grant will help pay for expenses such as rent, utilities and insurance that she’s incurred since she had to shut down her retail gift shop that sells clothing, jewelry, gifts and home accessories. She noted she has seven part-time employees who were laid off, but said she hopes to "slowly be able to bring them back" after she is allowed to reopen her business starting on May 12. All seven workers have been with Vignettes for a number of years, she said.
Nygaard added she anticipates working by herself for the first few days to see how many customers come in.
"We’re just going to play it slow," said Nygaard, who noted she wants to make sure both customers and employees feel "comfortable" inside her store.
During the shutdown, Nygaard said she’s offered private shopping, curbside pickup and porch drop-off of items. For private shopping, a customer can call ahead and arrange to visit the store for a specified period of time. Nygaard said those single shopper experiences have gone "really well." She noted customers have been "very supportive" of her business and added she "totally appreciates" each purchase they’ve made.
Noting that her business is marking its 20th anniversary this week, Nygaard said she is "looking forward … to being open [again]."
Millsaps said she feels "very fortunate" that her business, Fine Reflections Salon, was one of the companies in Hudson that received the grant.
"I commend Summit County and the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce for putting together such a great program that was designed specifically for a small business like mine," said Millsaps, who added Fine Reflections, a hair and nail services salon, will receive a $5,000 grant.
She noted her salon has been closed since March 18 following an order issued by Gov. Mike DeWine. The business will remain closed until a reopen date is announced by both the governor and the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology.
"It’s hard not knowing when we can welcome our clients back," stated Millsaps. "The health and safety of every [person] who enters the salon is my highest priority."
Millsaps said she has 19 employees on her payroll: 12 licensed cosmetologists, two licensed nail technicians, one massage therapist, and four support staff. On March 18, when DeWine issued the order closing salons and other similar types of businesses, Millsaps said she and her co-workers finished working with their customers and took a selfie together before the shop was closed indefinitely.
"It was hard saying goodbye not knowing when we would see each other again, or when we could return to work," said Millsaps.
She added she sent her employees the unemployment paperwork and has since helped them navigate the system.
"I believe they will all come back to work when we are able to reopen," noted Millsaps.
Millsaps said she’s applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administration, but "did not receive funding before the money ran out the first round, which was discouraging. I am hopeful it will be approved and funded soon."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.