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Vast Majority of Arlington Small Businesses Report Significant Disruption During Pandemic

More than 90% of Arlington small businesses have had their business “very” or “extremely” disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s according to the results of a preliminary survey conducted by Arlington Economic Development, revealed in a county press release Thursday evening. With many businesses shut down by emergency order, revenue has slowed to a trickle for a wide swath of the local business community.

“While the pandemic is impacting numerous segments of the Arlington business community, it is particularly difficult for those that are customer-facing, specifically small retail, hospitality and personal services businesses, which have reported significant sales declines as well as employee layoffs,” the county noted.

To make matters worse, the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program loan fund, part of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed late last month, has run out of money — before many small businesses could get their applications processed by swamped banks.

A delay in replenishing the program, amid partisan bickering in Congress, could lead to business closures.

(ARLnow’s parent company, which employs 9 people, applied for a PPP loan from PNC Bank on April 6. As of this morning it was still “under review.”)

Arlington County, meanwhile, is launching its own relief program for small businesses. The county says it will provide grants of up to $10,000 for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees. The application for the program is expected to open in early May.

The funds for the program are being reallocated from elsewhere in the current Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

More from Arlington County:

Arlington County has created the Arlington Small Business Emergency GRANT (Giving Resiliency Assets Near Term) Program, to provide immediate financial assistance to Arlington’s small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The GRANT program is designed to bridge the gap to provide near-term relief for businesses, some of whom have experienced delays or limitations with Federal relief initiatives. The program was approved during a County Board budget work session Thursday, April 16.

“Small businesses contribute to the character of our community,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “What’s more – they are a vital component of our community’s economic health. More than 90 percent of our businesses are small businesses – and right now, they need our help more than ever before.”

The GRANT Program would provide grants of up to $10,000 to businesses and non-profits with less than 50 employees. Businesses may use the grants for employee salary and benefits as well as for other business capital and operating expenses directly related to the immediate impacts of COVID-19. Funding for the program is being reallocated from existing grant funds in the FY2020 budget.

“This pandemic has been truly devastating to the Arlington business community, particularly our customer-facing small businesses,” said Arlington Economic Development Director Telly Tucker, who reported that more than 9 out of 10 small businesses called the pandemic extremely or very disruptive to business operations. “In our outreach to our business community, we’ve heard that access to financial assistance was what they needed more than anything. We’re hoping these funds can bridge the gap for businesses and help them stay afloat during this challenging time.”

Eligibility and Applications Process 

Eligible businesses and non-profits are those located in Arlington County with fewer than 50 employees that can demonstrate revenue losses of 35 percent or more as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will be evaluated through a competitive process involving a weighted scoring system, looking at considerations like the number of jobs retained or supported with funds, length of time the business has operated in Arlington, whether it is women and/or minority-owned, demonstrated need, and how the funds will be used. Applications for Federal programs will not impact County GRANT eligibility. The goal is to have the application process up and running in early May.

Local small businesses and get notified about the grant application opening here and find more COVID-19 resources from Arlington Economic Development here.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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