The Community Foundation of Grundy County and the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce & Industry are excited to announce 35 local small businesses have been selected to receive $1,000 grants to support their efforts to serve the community during this pandemic.

“Yes, we gave a few grants to small businesses as a result of the Diamond and Coal City tornadoes, but not to this extent. This was a purposeful effort to raise and distribute grants to small businesses so that Grundy County can rebuild after this pandemic disaster,” said Julianne Buck, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Grundy County.

While there have been numerous loan and grant opportunities presented through the pandemic, it is difficult for small businesses to qualify or compete with Chicago-area businesses. The Foundation and the Chamber wanted to do something specific for the local business economy and the need was great. The organizations had 54 applications submitted for the grant fund, which has $35,000 currently.

“We are so proud at how innovative our area businesses have been to try and stay afloat during this time. But we also know they need more help and hope these dollars can assist our local business owners as they continue the fight to stay open,” said Christina Van Yperen, President & CEO of the Grundy Chamber.

The Foundation and Chamber worked on this project for a few months, raising money, researching what other communities were doing, and looking for grant application models that could be adapted for Grundy County. The application was available via the Foundation and Chamber’s websites on June 24. In addition to answering questions regarding business needs at this time and business plans for providing customer service, the applicants also had to identify whether they applied for other programs, such as the national Payroll Protection Program or the local City of Morris TIF grants. The businesses were asked how they expect to use their $1,000 grant, whether for staff, mortgage/rent, utilities, disposable food containers, or disinfecting supplies – all of which are permissible uses for the small business grants.

The applications were due July 13, then the responses were compiled into “blind” scoring sheets and sent to a review committee comprised of representatives from the Chamber, the Foundation, and from the community at large.  The applicant business name and other identifying information was withheld and each applicant was given an ID number to assure that no bias was a factor in scoring.  Reviewers then scored each application based on the various sections of the application and the 35 applications scoring highest are receiving grants.

“To date we have only $35,000 in the Disaster Fund specifically for small business grants.  If donors would like to contribute to the Fund for this project, we’ll be able to approve more grants, going down the line based on scores. The Foundation can also reach out to donor advised funds and look to our regular grants budget to see if we can find more money for this project,” Buck said.

To donate to the Disaster Fund so the Foundation and Chamber can disburse grants to the remaining applicants, visit www.cfgrundycounty.com.

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