Loudoun Economic Development announced on Wednesday that the county’s Board of Supervisors has increased allocations for the fifth round of the COVID-19 Business Interruption Fund to cover all 657 certified eligible businesses with a $5,000 grant.
The additional $145,000 will fund the final 29 businesses that met the eligibility requirements, negating the need for a random drawing. A full list of grant recipients can be found at LoudounBusinessFund.org.
“The Board of Supervisors and Loudoun town councils have been proactive in recognizing the business community’s resiliency during the pandemic and ongoing need for financial support,” Loudoun Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer explained. “After five rounds of applications, we’re proud to report that all #LoudounPossible businesses that were certified eligible have now been funded.”
The fifth round of applications focused on funding appropriately licensed businesses that have between zero and 100 employees, had less than $5 million in gross annual receipts, and could demonstrate at least a 25% loss in revenue that could be attributed to COVID-19.
The applicant pool for this round was the most inclusive to date, including 261 self-identified women-owned businesses, 174 minority-owned businesses, and 23 businesses that requested translation services. Grant recipients represent a cross-section of Loudoun’s diverse economy, including businesses located in all of Loudoun’s incorporated towns.
To execute the largest round of the Business Interruption Fund, Loudoun Economic Development partnered with the towns of Purcellville and Hillsboro to help disperse their CARES Act funding to the business community. Of the 660 total businesses, 648 were funded by the county, including four that are located in the town of Hillsboro, and 12 that were funded by Purcellville.
The $3.3 million allocated in this round increases the fund totals to $11.545 million dispersed to approximately 2,000 Loudoun businesses.
One business funded in this round is BurgerIM, which is nestled in a prime location for foot traffic between the public library and cinema at the Brambleton Town Center. When the library and theater closed down operations, BurgerIM saw a 50% drop in business.
This funding comes at a critical time for owner Saqib Khalid and his three employees.
“We are getting help at the time when we need it the most. We never shut down during COVID-19, and we’ve tried our best to stay open,” he said. “We will use this fund to stay open, retain our employees, pay our utilities and help pay the rent.”
Breaux Vineyards is one of Loudoun’s largest farm wineries, located outside of Purcellville, and felt the financial effects of decreased capacity and investing in extra safeguards for customers and employees.
“Like so many, our business suffered greatly during the onset and rise of COVID-19. The business interruption grant will relieve some of the financial pressure so we can focus our efforts on pushing forward to recovery,” Vice President and General Manager Jennifer Breaux said. “The grant will go directly to payroll. Our team has pivoted and they rose with the ever-changing tide of the effects of COVID-19 on their employment, our business and the new demands in our business practices.
“To serve them first is undeniably the right choice for our company.”
Chequena Morris-Hall owns Elite Formation Studio of Dance and pivoted to online dance classes to help offset a complete loss of business during the lockdowns. Since re-opening her Sterling location, social distancing limits her capacity to 50%, which does not cover her rent and instructor pay.
This $5,000 grant will help cover payroll and keep the lights on at the studio.
“Loudoun County does care about small businesses and the focus on black small businesses is amazing,” Morris-Hall said. “When you’re a small business in a big county, it’s easy for you to feel small. When they recognize you on a larger scale like this, it’s so amazing. It really gives you the motivation to keep going.
She continued: “When you own a small business, you don’t do it for wealth and recognition; you do it because you care. It gets hard when the community is counting on you and you run out of resources. Now, it feels like the community is reinvesting in us.”
Saurabh Agarwal is the CEO of two Loudoun-based companies: Elgebra, a software development and IT staffing firm, and Icebreakurz, a global sales enablement company. When COVID-19 hit, he felt the impact on both businesses.
“The biggest thing that these funds will do is allow us to keep investing in our businesses,” Agarwal said. “COVID-19 caused us to cut our marketing and sales budgets, which cuts sales revenue and makes it harder to retain employees. These funds will make a very big difference in helping us get back to business and fuel job creation.”
When COVID-19 hit in March, Brittany Bradley had to refund more than $10,000 to clients for canceled events that her business, Luxy Balloons in Sterling, would no longer be able to execute.
This $5,000 grant will be used to revitalize her business.
“It’s so fun doing business in Loudoun County! To see the county take time to support my small business means a lot. This grant will assist us, personally, in growing our team,” she said. “Receiving this grant is honestly heartwarming. We enjoy celebrating life with our clients through custom balloon decorations and can’t wait to continue making memories.”
All applicants will be contacted in the next 24 hours to confirm their application status and provide additional resources. A full list of grant recipients can be found at LoudounBusinessFund.org.