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Grant money helps 18 small businesses with payroll, rent

Eighteen area businesses were recently the beneficiaries of a total of $20,000 in grant money from the Town of Farmville and Prince Edward County. In this time when many small businesses are struggling, the funding was used to relieve some the of the pressures of payroll, utility costs and rent.

The IDAs of Farmville and Prince Edward each contributed $10,000 to the grant fund. A committee, featuring two representatives from each, recently agreed unanimously to fund the 18 qualifying local small businesses by dividing the combined $20,000 by 18, creating grants in the amount of $1,111.11.

Sidney Allen, manager and master designer at Rochette’s Florist, shared sentiments echoed by many business owners in saying he was extremely grateful to the IDAs for the grant.

“We plan to use the grant money to help with payroll, utilities, and we are making some alterations to improve distancing guidelines for our clients and staff,” he said. “Some clear plexiglass and clear vinyl curtains will be installed this summer in preparation of opening our showrooms this fall.”

B.S.M. & Associates Insurance owner Ben S. Muhammad said his business has been able to hold its own in terms of paying its employees, but the incoming grant will make an important impact on other fronts.

“The money would be very helpful in just meeting some of the responsibilities — paying the rent and paying the light bill, things like that,” he said.

Lisa Burns, owner of Mottley Emporium, said the grant money will help her company cover the bills that it paid when it did not have any customers coming in earlier this year.

“For us, (being) self-employed, health insurance is pretty expensive,” she said. “(The IDAs) asked on the form, and that was what I had put was I would use (the grant) for insurance, because that’s a big expense for us.”

Bill McKay, owner of one19 restaurant, said the grant will allow him to invest in creative solutions to continue to serve the community during the pandemic.

“For instance, we have recently signed up with WayFast (Delivery) to expand our to-go delivery items,” he said. “We’ve added extra precautions for health and the safety of all, including purchase of a digital thermometer, and I take the temperatures of my employees every day when they arrive and keep a log of that to make sure no one is showing a temperature or anything.”

He said he will also be continuing to purchase disinfectants, cleaners, signage and masks for his employees.

Caryn Kayton, owner and CEO of Caryn’s Bridals, Formals & Tuxedos, said the grant money will help her company get the word out.

“We plan to use the money to do additional advertising to encourage customers to shop in Farmville, letting the customers know that we are open and ready to help them plan their perfect day,” she said. “We are sanitizing and social distancing to keep our customers safe.”

Casting Your Cares owner Beth Cook said she is not quite sure exactly how she will use the grant, but it will be key to allowing her business to continue.

“We’re a counseling agency, so we’ve had to stay open, and we’re so grateful to get this because it’s just going to allow us to pay for costs that would keep us open and ready for business,” she said, noting her business does face-to-face consultations in the office and also provides telehealth services.