Fast Forward Monroe announces up to $4M in additional funds
The success of Fast Forward Monroe, a $17 million program, has prompted Monroe County Executive Adam Bello to authorize up to an additional $4 million to continue the grant program. This funding will be used to help businesses who did not receive assistance through the first round of the program.
“The COVID-19 crisis has had a huge impact on our small local businesses, and our women and minority-owned businesses were hit especially hard,” said Adam Bello, Monroe County Executive. “Using federal CARES Act dollars, Fast Forward Monroe has been able to provide flexible, direct relief to help hundreds of our community’s struggling business owners and their employees, with an emphasis on those businesses disproportionately affected by the pandemic. I am committed to doing what we can to equitably help our businesses bridge these difficult times.”
In the first round, Monroe County Department of Planning and Development staff reviewed and processed 2,007 applications for Fast Forward Monroe and approved 1,315. Nearly half (49 percent) of all businesses receiving grants were in low or moderate income zip codes. About 44 percent (582) of approved applications were from women-owned businesses and 25 percent (335) were from minority-owned businesses. Fourteen percent, or 181, were from businesses that were both women and minority owned. About 58 percent (767) of companies identified themselves uniquely as diverse business enterprises.
“D&L Groceries is thankful for the Fast Forward grant. It was very helpful at a time of incredible need. The funds were used to keep our staff at working on important projects such as the 211 Senior Citizen Meals Program. In addition, D&L use the fund to help it implement COVID-19 safety procedures, enabling an open floor plan and installing safety fixtures. We are grateful to the County and hope that they continue to implement programs that help small businesses keep their doors open,” said Linford Hamilton, D&L Groceries.
Announced in late October, Fast Forward Monroe was designed to support small local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a direct response to a countywide survey and provides financial assistance to small businesses with two to 50 full-time employees in the personal services industry. The program placed priority on helping businesses that had not yet received COVID-related aid and on assisting women and minority-owned enterprises.
Under the program, businesses were able to receive grants of up to:
- $10,000 for businesses with 0 – 2 full time employees
- $15,000 for businesses with 3 – 5 full time employees
- $20,000 for businesses with 26 – 50 full time employees
Grants were provided to an array of companies representing numerous industries in the county. About 22 percent went to restaurants, 12 percent to salons, spas, barbershops and nail salons, and 10 percent to companies providing retail or other consumer goods. About 20 percent of grants went to businesses identified as “other,” which includes cleaning services, educational services, event venues, employment agencies and dance studios. The median Fast Forward Monroe grant amount was $10,000, and the average amount dispersed was $12,593.15. The median full time employee for grant recipients was three, with an average recipient having 5.3 full time employees.
“Our retail stores, restaurants, and service providers are the lifeblood of Monroe County neighborhoods and households, and were hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to CARES Act funding, the Fast Forward Monroe grant program was one important way to help those entrepreneurs and their families endure the struggle. Monroe County staff worked collaboratively across many departments to get this program off the ground. While we know that the road to recovery will be a long one, we are committed to supporting our small businesses in every way possible as restrictions are lifted,” added Ana Liss, director of Monroe County Planning and Development.
Staff from the Monroe County Department of Planning and Development will be available to assist applicants who had incomplete applications or eligibility questions.