County considers new economic recovery programs for small businesses

Fairfax County officials are meeting tomorrow (March 16) to discuss two programs aimed at helping small businesses recover from the pandemic.

The “Pivot Grant” will be smaller amounts of money given to a larger group of businesses with the aim of supporting them as they continue to operate. The intended effect is to “mitigate… business closures” due to not being able to afford operational costs.

Proposed funding needed for these grants is about $13.5 million.

The hoped-for timeline, according to pre-meeting materials, is to get the grant approved by the Board of Supervisors in April or May, open applications in May or June, and grant monies actually go out to businesses in June or July.

The “Thrive Program” will provide technical assistance and counseling to entrepreneurs and businesses trying to grow.

As opposed to individual businesses, providers would apply for this and they would assist businesses. $500,000 is being proposed as the amount given to each provider. That program could launch in the summer and run through the year.

According to research, three industries with highest job losses in the county through December – not surprisingly and similar to September – are hospitality and food service, health care, and retail. They make up more than 50% of the jobs lost in Fairfax County.

A recent survey also suggested that 93% of small businesses would use any additional money provided towards operating expenses and rent/mortgage support.

In November, research was also presented that showed the greatest economic impact of the pandemic has been in the Falls Church, Annandale, and Baileys Crossroads areas.

Those areas as well have the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases in the county and the highest share of communities of color.

A number of specific recommendations and proposals are also being discussed. They include:

  • Launching a “Buy local” marketing campaign focused on goods made in the county and minority-owned businesses.
  • Setting up an online permitting process aimed at alterations to keep businesses open.
  • Advocating for state legislation that prioritizes local purchasing.
  • Expanding access to affordable child-care, housing, and internet service for workers and their families.
  • Strengthening job and training programs by piloting a neighborhood job center.
  • Leveraging county to hire local workers for pandemic recovery efforts.
  • Starting a “Local Business Marketplace Pilot”

These discussions are taking place at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Economic Initiative Committee public meeting. It starts at 9:30 a.m. and will be streamed online.

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