Greater Fort Wayne President and CEO John Urbahns

Greater Fort Wayne President and CEO John Urbahns announced the start of a program to get small businesses in Allen County access to CARES Act funding.

Grant applications opened Oct. 20 for small businesses to get reimbursements for personal protective equipment.

The city of Fort Wayne and Allen County are making $1 million in federal CARES Act money available through Dec. 1, or whenever the funds are gone, John Urbahns, president and CEO of Greater Fort Wayne, announced Oct. 20 with other GFW and city and county government officials.

"I'm proud of the way our community has come together and supported one another," Urbahns said. "One of the areas that we know is suffering significantly is small businesses."

Grants of up to $5,000 each are available to private for-profit or nonprofit businesses located in Allen County and started before Feb. 15 with fewer than 150 employees. 

"This will go a long way in helping our small businesses get through this pandemic," Urbahns said.

Eligible nonprofits are 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) organizations, said Ellen Cutter, vice president of economic development at GFW Inc. 

"For business owners the grant is intended to ensure the safety of their employees and customers," said Andrea Robinson, economic development administrator for the city of Fort Wayne. 

Reimbursable expenditures include:

• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, face shields, gloves, and hand sanitizer and disinfectant products

• Facility sanitation equipment, products, and services

• Facility modifications and technology investments to promote social distancing including, but not limited to, telework technology, signs, air handling, partitioning, improvements for safe queueing, and construction of health and safety improvements aimed at reducing the spread of infection.

Applications are available at grant.gfwinc.com.

"There's no question that the largest employer in our community is small business," said Mayor Tom Henry. "... We need to make sure that these small businesses have access to the capital needed to make sure that they can stand strong during this pandemic."

Small-business owners are struggling.

"They're worried about utility payments; they're worried about making payroll, and some of them simply are not making it," said Allen County Commissioner Rich Beck, who spent decades in the banking industry.  

The grants will help them make the payments they need to survive, Beck said.

Applications are on a first-in, first-out basis. Questions may be emailed to info@greaterfortwayneinc.com.

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