CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Small businesses are a huge part of the engine that drives the economy. But, many are now trying to stay afloat during the pandemic.
Keeping the lights on, employees paid, and maintaining operations is quite the struggle for so many, including Latia Tisdale, who owns Luxe Lengths hair studio in Bon Air.
“The rent is due, there’s insurance. You still have to pay bills. I had no money coming in for eight weeks,” Tisdale explained. She says a load was lifted when she recently received a 10,000 grant from Verizon, made possible through the company’s Pay It Forward Initiative.
“I couldn’t believe it. I cried. It was such a relief. I’m so thankful,” Tisdale said.
Katie Davis, who works in community engagement for Verizon, said the company specifically chose the nonprofit LISC, and donated $2.5 million to be distributed to small businesses across the country.
“The goal was to get grants to those businesses and those communities that may have less access to traditional forms of capital. So, we focused on minority owned businesses, women-owned businesses, veteran owned businesses and those in what LISC would call underinvested communities,” Davis added.
She also explained that their Pay It Forward campaign has a fun social media twist.
“It’s a social media campaign where every Tuesday and Thursday we have some of the biggest names in entertainment live streaming from their homes,” Davis explained. “As part of the live stream, we encourage the communities to shout out their favorite small businesses, to commit to getting takeout, to getting gift cards and doing things to help support those businesses they love. In addition to the $2.5 million up front, every time someone tweets on the pay it forward live stream using #payitforwardlive, Verizon donates another $10 dollars to LISC to support another round of small business grants.”
This week, their third and final grant application process begins.
“Most of the grantees are using it for very basic things. Paying rent, paying employees, paying back invoices, basic operational things. Hopefully these loans will tide them over until they can reopen or until they can secure more permanent funding,” said Davis.
The next grant application period for Verizon's Pay It Forward campaign opens up this Thursday, May 14. Verizon is contributing a total of $7.25 million during the campaign. So far, 225 small businesses nationwide have received the $10,000 grants.
More than 55,000 small businesses applied to the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund through LISC, and of the businesses receiving the grants, 62% were women-owned, 96% minority-owned and 12% were veteran-owned.
The grantees are in cities and towns nationwide, with 87% operating in undeserved communities that do not have access too flexible, affordable capital.
Small businesses interested in applying for the grant can get details here.
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