$55 Million in Small Business Grants Available From a Surprising Source
With many small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, many charitable organizations and government agencies have been stepping up to provide grants. It turns out that these aren't the only organizations wanting to help out small business owners. Mega home improvement retailer Lowe's has also announced that they will be setting up a grant program.
Lowe's Commits to Helping Small Businesses Struck by the Pandemic
Though many businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, Lowe's and other big home improvement stores have actually been helped. With many homeowners stuck at home and looking for ways to improve their house, home improvement retailers are still getting plenty of business. Lowe's has decided to use this bump in business as a means of helping others.
They recently announced that they are granting $55 million to small business owners. Marvin Ellison, the President and CEO of Lowe's, says "Having grown up in a small town, I have first-hand knowledge of the extraordinary challenges small business owners in rural communities across the country face during the pandemic." These grants from Lowe's will be handed out through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation nonprofit. Each individual small business owner can apply for a grant of anywhere between $5,000 to $20,000.
The grants can be used for any sort of immediate operational costs. They are primarily intended to help those struggling due to COVID, not just provide assistance for entrepreneurs looking for startup funds. Lowe's suggests using the grant for things like rent, utilities, payroll, and vendor debts. They can be used to pay the applicant's regular salary as well, so they can help small business owners struggling with daily living expenses.
Over Half of All Grant Money Is Set Aside for Minorities
All sorts of small business owners can apply for the grant, but Lowe's has set aside some of the grant money for a special purpose. $30 million of the grant funds are specifically earmarked for minority small business grants. Lowe's explains that these businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Currently, 41 percent of black owned businesses have experienced COVID-related closures. Therefore, Lowe's hopes to provide some additional help for struggling companies.
When applying for the grant, it is not necessary to state the applicant's race. However, to see whether a business specifically qualifies for the minority funds, they ask about the business' status. Any business that is a certified Disability-Owned, Minority-Owned, Veteran-Owned, and/or Woman-Owned Business Enterprise can receive part of this $30 million in grant funds. To get this certification, 51 percent or more of ownership should be people who have a disability, or are a woman, minority, or veteran.
The Grant Application Deadline Is Approaching Fast
Those who think their small business could benefit from one of these grants may want to hurry up and apply. LISC says that round 5 of grant applications will close in early August. However, they expect to accept several more rounds of applications in the future. These applications ask all sorts of questions about the business. Applicants will need to provide details on their industry, location, number of employees, and financial needs.
Any individual over the age of 18 can submit an application on behalf of a small business. When deciding how to award grants, LISC says they will prioritize communities that are historically under-served due to a lack of capital. Entrepreneurs of color, veteran owned businesses, and female run businesses will also be prioritized. However, there is plenty of money, so even those who do not fit these grant preferences are still eligible.
Lowe's Grant Recipients Work in a Variety of Fields
So far, some of the winners of the grant have already been announced. Looking at these winners, it is evident that Lowe's is making an effort to provide assistance to a diverse range of small businesses. Recipients are located in both big cities like San Francisco, CA and rural areas like Lanham, MD. Some of the most frequently represented fields are things like restaurants and beauty parlors, since these industries are filled with independent small businesses and the pandemic has driven away many of their customers. Some other industries helped by the grants include hotels, nail salons, tattoo parlors, interior designers, clothing retailers, and more.
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