|The city of Fort Thomas has created a grant program to help area businesses meet fixed costs during the COVID crisis. The city also created a zero-interest loan program.|
by Robin Gee, city council beat editor
Funding in the form of an emergency grant has been made available to Fort Thomas businesses through the city of Fort Thomas. Redirecting funds from its business improvement grant program, the new opportunity has been named the "Emergency GROW Grant."
Grant amounts will be based on the number of eligible applicants requesting funds. Maximum award is limited to $2,500. Eligible Fort Thomas businesses are urged to apply for the program as soon as possible.
Businesses are asked to fill out an Emergency Grow Grant application form available on the city’s website and to provide proof of current Fort Thomas Occupational License and a copy of IRS Form W-9. Applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on May 1, 2020.
"We are continuing to take action to support our businesses by offering financial assistance programs during their time of need," said Fort Thomas Mayor Eric Haas. "We are committed to helping maintain our business community that has invested in our city so they may recover from this unfortunate crisis."
Paving the way
The move to provide the funds came after council members and staff met to discuss how best to support the local business community during the crisis. Out of the initial meetings came an idea to provide a zero-interest small business loan and to continue to explore additional ideas.
As early as March, some council members pointed to the GROW Grant, a program developed last year that was designed to help offset the costs of physical improvements to area businesses such as painting, facades, signage and other mostly aesthetic features. Money for the GROW Grant came from about $60,000 a year the city collects from leasing usage of its cell phone tower to telecommunications companies.
City council held a special meeting online April 6 to explore the option of using GROW Grant funds to help better support businesses during the current crisis. Council voted to suspend the current GROW program and redeploy the funds, creating the emergency grant.
RELATED: Fort Thomas Redoubles Efforts in Support of Local Small Business
Since the Fort Thomas council decision, other Northern Kentucky cities, including Fort Mitchell and Newport, have followed suit to convert existing business improvement programs to provide similar emergency grants and loans.
Small business loans also available
In addition to the Emergency GROW Grant, the city of Fort Thomas is providing no-interest small business loans.
"The Fort Thomas Small Business Loan Program is still being offered to provide for limited, short-term, zero interest loans to qualified Fort Thomas business owners through April 30, 2020," noted Haas.
"We continue to ask everyone to join the city in supporting all of the local businesses in any way that you can. Our community has always supported each other, and I am confident we will continue to do so through this time."
For an application and more information on the Emergency GROW Grant or the Small Business Loan Program, go to the city of Fort Thomas website.