Record business relief fund available; deadline extended to June 29

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The Vermont Community Foundation has announced a $1 Million Main Street Business Relief Fund for Arlington, Dorset and Manchester, the largest privately funded business relief fund in the state and the deadline to apply has been extended to June 29.

The fund dwarfs the next largest privately sourced fund, which is a $200,000 relief fund in Montpelier.

The business relief fund is the result of anonymous donations from locals who want to help local small businesses anchored by one lead donor, who simply wants to pay back a community that "has had a huge influence on our children and grandchildren."

The donor's family has been enjoying the community for "nearly 50 years."

"We love Vermont and want to see it remain the special place that it is," the donor said in a press release. "We have gotten involved not only because our community needs help, but because others do too, and hopefully this fund to assist small businesses will become a template for other communities across the state."

The fund, a partnership with area philanthropists and private foundations, is designed to assist small businesses that provide core services to the local community, animate the area's vibrant hospitality industry, and contribute to the region's economic vitality, according to a press release by the Vermont Community Foundation, which has designed the grant program, coordinated and will manage the partnerships and set up the logistics for the application, review and grant award process.

Elisabeth Marx, senior philanthropic advisor with VCF, said she was moved by the donors.

"We're very proud and so moved by the donors who care so deeply for this community to put together a fund of this size," Marx said. "It's exciting."

Marx said the donors are people you see on the street every day who want to help their community but aren't interested in the glory.

"These are people you see all the time," Marx said. "These are people you know. But they're modest. They want to do the right thing but it isn't about getting credit."

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Marx said the funds will be used to help the small businesses who may not be able to weather the storm

"Mom and pop businesses are what really make a community," Marx said. "Helping them to thrive is good for all of us."

Dan Smith, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, said the target businesses set the tone for the

community.

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"In every Vermont community, small businesses, shops and restaurants set the tone, create vibrance, and offer us ways of coming together — they are critical to our social fabric," Smith said. "The Manchester region has an incredible history in that regard, attracting visitors from across New England and beyond. This partnership is an innovative, replicable vision for sustaining that fabric in a challenging time."

Marx encouraged businesses to apply for the funds and she understands that nobody wants to need help.

"These are hard times," Marx said. "People are proud, they're not looking for a handout. They just desperately need some help right now."

To maximize the support, and to comply with government rules on grants to businesses impacted by a disaster, priority will be given to businesses with gross revenue of less than $1 million in the food, lodging, retail, personal care and wellness, fine crafts and art galleries, landscaping and home care, and pet care sectors.

A full list of sectors who can and cannot apply can be found at vermontcf.org/MainStApply. Applications must be submitted electronically by 5 p.m., Monday, June 29. No late applications will be accepted.

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Applicants will be notified of the results of their application by mid-July.

Some businesses have already begun seeking information and are getting their applications ready, Marx said.

It's not a first-come, first-served process, so as long as businesses meet the deadline their application will be considered.

Most of the businesses seeking help so far are retails shops and inns but she expects to hear from restaurants soon as well.

"We're hearing from people who really need the help," Marx said. "I'm hearing a lot of gratitude."

In addition to seeking businesses to apply for the funds, the VCF is also hoping to grow the fund to help more businesses as well as increase the size of grants that can be given. The donors who have already given are asking others to join them with the hope the fund can be expanded to $1.5 million.

Tax-deductible donations can be made at vermontcf.org/MainStDonate.

To apply for the fund, business owners can find a full list of eligible business sectors and more, please visit vermontcf.org/MainStApply.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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