CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The window is closing for small business grant applications available through RISE West Virginia to help with recovery costs after the June 23 flood.
As of Monday morning, Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette reported a little more than $1.5 million had been allocated to small businesses in 11 of the 12 counties that were part of the initial Federal Disaster Declaration issued five months ago.
In all, Burdette said 200 companies with 1,000 total employees had qualified for mini-grants of up to $10,000.
Applicant criteria included being located in one of the affected counties, being in good standing with the state, having a verifiable business at the time of the June flooding and a plan for usage of the grant assistance.
“There have been tears in people’s eyes when we’ve given that check because these are almost, almost exclusively small companies of less than ten, five, sometimes sole proprietor companies, that weren’t quite sure how they were going to get through this,” Burdette said.
“It was enough to, maybe, make payroll or pay the rent or replace some equipment that was lost. We think it’s had a positive effect and we think it’s a model to be used in other situations.”
RISE West Virginia was created to help the Mountain State’s small businesses keep their doors open and their operations up and running post-flood.
In its first week, more than 100 applications were submitted.
Since then, businesses in Greenbrier County have qualified for the most of the available funding with more than $700,000 in assistance followed by Nicholas County at upwards of $200,000 and Kanawha County at more than $150,000.
Grant help was also paid out to small businesses in the following counties: Clay, Fayette, Jackson, Lincoln, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers and Webster.
The program officially launched on Tuesday, July 26, the day after Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced it at the State Capitol. Initial funding, which was a combination of public and private dollars, was $2 million.
Brad Smith, a West Virginia native and Intuit chairman and CEO, along with his family committed $500,000 to RISE West Virginia effort.
For many business owners, additional loans for rebuilding were not an option, according to Burdette. “They were borrowed to the hilt and had borrowed against their houses and borrowed against their cars. They didn’t have anyplace else to go,” he said.
“This program, while not a be all end all, I think, was certainly a bridge.”
More information on RISE West Virginia is available HERE.