The West Hartford Town Council approved use of American Rescue Plan Act funds to support a Small Business and Nonprofit Recovery Grant Program.
By Ronni Newton
The Town of West Hartford has established a Small Business and Nonprofit Recovery Grant Program to assist local businesses that were adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or expended resources for new or enhanced programs to directly respond to the negative effects of the pandemic.
The West Hartford Town Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the allocation of $2 million of the town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the grant program. West Hartford businesses or nonprofits with 50 or fewer full-time employees, that have been operating in town since at least Jan. 1, 2020, and that meet the other eligibility requirements can apply for a one-time grant of up to $10,000.
The program will officially launch on Wednesday, July 6, 2022, and two informational webinars will be held that day to further explain the parameters of the program and the process for applying.
Many local businesses and organizations – including arts and cultural organizations and community-based human services organizations – are still in the process of rebounding from the pandemic. “The Recovery Grant program will help our businesses and nonprofits regain their strength so they can thrive and prosper for years to come,” Kristen Gorski, Town of West Hartford economic development coordinator.
“The health and vitality of our community is dependent upon our small business and non-profit sectors succeeding,” Mayor Shari Cantor said. “We understand how difficult and unpredictable these past few years have been for these organizations. They have worked tirelessly to keep things going and we hope this grant opportunity will provide some much needed relief.”
The grant program will provide reimbursement in two eligible categories, and businesses and organizations can apply for a total of $10,000 in either category, or both if applicable:
- COVID-19 Relief Assistance Grant – for businesses of organizations that can demonstrate negative impacts from the COVID-19 public health emergency; and
- New or Enhanced Program Assistance Grant – A new or enhanced program must meet the criteria of directly responding to the negative impact of COVID-19.
Details about the program, including specific eligibility requirements and the grant guidelines and application can be found on the town’s Economic Development webpage.
“I’m excited about this. I think this is really innovative,” Deputy Mayor Liam Sweeney said Tuesday night.
“As a small business retailer, there are many of us whose health and vitality are going to be sustained through these grants … it’s really great that we are taking this initiative,” said Councilor Leon Davidoff. He said at the end of the day, the town will be judged by how its ARPA money was spent, and this is a measure to support long-term sustainability. He also urged Council members to be ambassadors for this program over the next few weeks.
Applications can be submitted beginning Wednesday, July 20, 2022, at 8:30 a.m., and must be submitted no later than Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, at 4:30 p.m. The town intends to award the entire $2 million and may extend the application period beyond Aug. 10 if any of the allocated funding remains available.
The applications will be reviewed after the August deadline, and awards will likely be made in early September, Town Manager Rick Ledwith said at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.
“I expect we will have a significant turnout” for the applications, he said, noting there are roughly 3,200 small businesses registered in West Hartford.
In response to a question from Council member Mark Zydanowicz regarding the rollout of the program, Ledwith said the town will be notifying businesses about the program through multiple channels, including various email lists, neighborhood associations, and through local media.
For a more detailed review of the program, businesses and organizations can register for virtual webinars, which will also include an opportunity to ask questions. Click on the date to access the webinar:
In addition, Denise Whitford, business advisor with Connecticut Small Business Development Center, will provide in-person free, confidential, one-on-one advising and assistance with the application process. She is available at Town Hall on Mondays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 860-576-5135 or email [email protected].
Questions about eligibility and program guidelines can also be emailed to [email protected].
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