CIC, chamber offer $5,000 small business grants

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal
Tallmadge restaurant, retail and personal service establishments may soon be eligible for up to a $5,000 local grant. Money is expected to be distributed within the next two months.

Tallmadge retail, personal service and restaurant establishments could have up to a $5,000 check in hand in the next six to seven weeks. 

On Wednesday , the city's community investment corporation Tallmade Grow Inc. approved the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program, which will redistribute $50,000 of the CIC's money to local businesses. 

As the partnering organization, Tallmadge Chamber of Commerce has already approved the program. They now need to set an application window and nominate three people to a five-member application review committee. The other two members are from the CIC. 

Tallmadge Grow had originally contributed the $50,000 to the Summit County COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program, but the county council reimbursed the money after receiving $94.4 million in CARES Act funding, $5 million of which was earmarked for the small business grants. Of the $5 million, $108,000 came to Tallmadge businesses. 

MORE: Grants awarded to Tallmadge small businesses

Green, Fairlawn, Norton, Bath Township, Copley Township, Mogadore and Coventry Township were also reimbursed for a total of $235,000.

"We have that money back and [the CIC's] attitude was let's see if we can reinvest it back in the community, considering we never anticipated getting that money back," Economic Development Director and CIC secretary Matt Springer said. 

The chamber will not contribute funds, but will be in charge of promotion, marketing and communication, similar to how Summit County and the Greater Akron Chamber worked together on their grant program. 

Mike Carter — CIC vice president and chamber of commerce secretary — brought the idea to the CIC in February after speaking with the Chamber about it. The grant program was originally envisioned to help restaurants exclusively, but was expanded to include other businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During Wednesdays meeting, however, Finance Director and CIC member Mollie Gilbride questioned whether restaurants should be eligible for the local grant, given that the latest federal stimulus package, as of Wednesday morning, provided nearly $29 billion toward restaurant relief. 

"Potentially restaurants [...] are eligible to have their 2020 revenues brought up to their 2019 revenues," Gilbride said. "My concern, is that we're going to give restaurants money, and then they'll make up the rest of the money, so we're giving them something that at the end, will be be replaced by federal government funds." 

Following the meeting, Congress did pass the latest COVID-19 relief package, which established a $28.6 billion revitalization fund for restaurants. Businesses will be eligible for up to $5 million each.

More:Takeaways from the COVID-19 stimulus bill passing Congress: Weeks of partisan fighting comes to an end with a win for Biden

"I have similar concerns," member Chuck Wiedie said. "I think to get the biggest bang for our buck, we have to give it to people who don't have another lifeline, even though that lifeline may be a moving target. There's going to be some help coming to restaurants." 

CIC treasurer Don Pavlik responded that he does not believe $29 billion will cover the gap for every restaurant in the country, and noted that they do not yet know what the eligibility rules will be or when businesses would receive those funds. 

"I look at this as a rent payment, one more month to stay open so they can get to a period where maybe we get out of this," Pavlik said. 

Carter added that several businesses who were awarded funds have still not received money three months later. 

"I think this is a way to get them money now, when they need it the most," he said. "This is 'now' money, and it's not large sums. I'm looking at Scratch [Kitchen], and the door is closed, and from personal experience, a couple other restaurants are not too far behind [...] We have to show we did something to help these businesses out."

More:Tallmadge: What opened and what closed in 2020?

Ultimately, the CIC unanimously approved the grant program to be available to restaurants, retail and personal services. 

"I think it's a great thing for businesses to give them the opportunity to receive a little bit of money," CIC president Mayor David Kline said. "It's not a lot, but it could help them with their rent or with retaining employees, which is the ultimate goal and to keep them in business in Tallmadge."

To be eligible, restaurants, retail and personal service establishments must be located in Tallmadge or in the Tallmadge/Brimfield Joint Economic Development District, have 5-50 employees (including those who file 1099, which is common among salons), and have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They must also provide profit and loss statements showing their reductions in revenue. 

Preference will be given to businesses that were ordered to close by various health mandates. 

Funds may be used to cover mortgage/rent/lease payments, payroll, equipment upgrades and other necessities. 

Applications will be accepted March 22 at 8 a.m. through April 2 at 4 p.m. and should be submitted directly to the chamber. 

More information will be available at https://tallmadge-ohio.org/153/Community-Improvement-Corporationhttps://tallmadgechamber.com/, and on social media. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.