Virginia announces $8.4M to support rural COVID-19 recovery, response
Gov. Ralph Northam today announced more than $8.4 million in Community Development Block Grants for 14 projects that will help rural communities across Virginia respond to recover from the public health and economic impacts of the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our administration remains committed to investing in rural communities during this unprecedented health crisis and as we work to rebuild Virginia’s economy,” Northam said. “This funding will go a long way to address the immediate needs of Virginia families and provide relief to small businesses, so they are better prepared for economic growth despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic.”
Since 1982, the federally funded CDBG program has been administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Virginia receives funding annually to distribute to small cities, towns, and counties, and funding is allocated among local government applicants through an open submission application process using objective scoring criteria developed in consultation with eligible localities.
Large cities and counties receive direct allocation of CDBG resources from the federal government, so the state administered funds must focus on smaller and more rural regions of the state. To this year, more than $20.4 million has been distributed to communities across Virginia through the CDBG program.
DHCD reallocated existing CDBG funding to assist with COVID-19 response and recovery activities. Funding can be used for:
- Construction or rehab of structures for shelters
- Testing or equipment manufacturing
- Training programs for healthcare workers or service industry jobs transitioning to food or pharmaceutical delivery systems
- Acquisition costs for telework or telemedicine services
- Job creation or business development for manufacturing of COVID-related materials
- Business assistance for job training or re-tooling business services to reopen and adapt in a new environment
- Small business recovery funds for rent/mortgage assistance
- Personal protective equipment, sanitization, dining equipment, and barrier devices to meet social distancing requirements
“Virginia continues to take an innovative approach in providing resources to assist households and businesses throughout the Commonwealth as they navigate this pandemic,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “From housing to business assistance, this CDBG funding will create healthy and safe ways for Virginians to move forward with recovery efforts.”
Alleghany County Small Business Recovery Assistance
Alleghany County, along with the city of Covington and the towns of Clifton Forge and Iron Gate, will utilize CDBG funds to assist small businesses in the Alleghany Highlands region with a small business recovery assistance program. The localities will allow up to $5,000 per business to reimburse the costs incurred to reopen the business in accordance with state guidelines, as well as provide up to $8,400 in commercial rent relief for affected businesses. CDBG funding will assist approximately 150 businesses in the area, many of which are small retailers or tourism-related businesses that have remained closed during the pandemic. Alleghany County will be the lead applicant and administer the business recovery grant in partnership with Clifton Forge and Iron Gate.
Amherst County Urgent Need
A local Amherst County business, Swissomation, has been contracted by General Motors to increase production of components for ventilators in the midst of the pandemic. The CDBG funding will help with the purchase of specialty equipment as it expands business operations to meet this crucial need for the nation. Swissomation specializes in micromachining small parts, usually smaller than the size of a dime, with extreme accuracy.
Amherst County Small Business Recovery Assistance
Amherst County will utilize CDBG funding to bolster the county’s small business support program and assist at least 50 businesses. The county previously provided local relief funds to pay rent for small businesses through a grant program administered by the Amherst Economic Development Authority, and these funds were quickly expended, with many additional businesses identified in need of support. The CDBG funding will provide rent relief and equipment purchases that allow the businesses to reopen safely and in accordance with state guidelines. The county is partnering with the Small Business Development Center to offer support services for e-commerce orientation and training, technology training, and specific assessments for each business to help them strengthen their online presence.
Brunswick County Small Business Recovery Assistance
Brunswick County will provide recovery assistance to small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will be able to apply for up to $5,000 for retooling and technology activities and up to $10,000 for three to six months of rent and mortgage relief. Brunswick County will work with its local partners to assist at least 40 businesses.
Town of Culpeper Small Business Recovery Assistance
The town of Culpeper will support businesses throughout Culpeper County with a small business recovery assistance program. Approximately 370 businesses were required to shut down during COVID-19, and many others reduced hours or staff in accordance with state and national guidance. The town of Culpeper in partnership with the Community Investment Collaborative will provide business support for at least 100 businesses, with at least 32 businesses being small, women- or minority-owned. This program will offer rent relief, provide funds for equipment purchases that will allow businesses to reopen safely and in accordance with state guidelines.
Mecklenburg County Small Business Recovery Assistance
Mecklenburg County will assist at least 40 businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will be able to apply for up to $5,000 for retooling and technology activities and up to $10,000 for three to six months of rent and mortgage relief.
Montgomery County: Millstone Kitchen Food Program
Montgomery County, in partnership the local nonprofit organization Live Work Eat Gather, will utilize the Millstone Kitchen to bolster and expand meal delivery services.. This program will organize local caterers operating out of the Millstone Kitchen, a commercial, shared-use kitchen that is a part of the Old School at Prices Fork, to prepare and deliver at least 600 meals per week to six community-based organizations for six months. CDBG funding will provide a managing director for this operation, reliable contract work for caterers, and the delivery of meals to vulnerable populations in the area.
City of Norton: LENOWISCO Regional Small Business Recovery Assistance
The city of Norton andLee, Scott, and Wise counties will partner to support and assist the region’s small business community that was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will be awarded up to $15,000, which can go toward rent relief or costs incurred to reopen in accordance with state guidelines.
Page County: Small Business Strong
Project “Small Business Strong” will support the recovery of approximately 300 local lodging, retail, restaurant, and service-oriented businesses in Page County with tailored equipment or supplies for to help them better serve consumers and keep employees safe.
Page County: Pop-Up Food Hub and Mask Production
Page County will expand its food pantry to provide meals to low- to moderate-income households and elderly individuals, along with hospitality and restaurant workers that have been laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The food hub expansion will retain at least six jobs in the kitchen at the Mimslyn Inn to create meals and organize food services at the food pantry at least four days a week. The county will also help establish a small mask production operation, which will donate the masks higher risk populations or those returning to a job in the service and tourism sectors. The mask production operation will create five part-time jobs and approximately 3,800 masks for the community.
Shenandoah County Small Business Recovery Assistance
Shenandoah County will assist the small business community adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualifying businesses can apply for up to five months or a maximum of $7,000 in rent or mortgage relief and up to $5,000 in reopening expenses associated with equipment purchases and technology upgrades.
Smyth County Food Pantries Expansion/Assistance
Smyth County will partner with the four food pantries in the county to bolster operations and serve approximately 2,000 low- to moderate-income individuals per month. The county will utilize CDBG funding to acquire cold storage equipment, technology, and barrier equipment to assist distribution operations to standards in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, as well as partner with local businesses to increase the variety of food options at each of the four food pantries.
Town of South Boston: Halifax County Small Business Recovery Assistance
The town of South Boston will partner with Halifax County to assist businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The town will award businesses up to $5,000 for retooling and technology activities and up to $10,000 for three to six months of rent or mortgage relief. The town will utilize Destination Downtown South Boston, a Virginia Main Street organization, to administer the funding for the county and provide wrap-around support.
Wise County: Lunchbox276
Wise County and the city of Norton are partnering with Lunchbox276 to expand food programing options for approximately 500 children and families. Lunchbox276 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating childhood hunger in Wise County by providing breakfast and lunch to students and their families. The county and city have identified 20 local businesses that will work with Lunchbox276 to provide dinners for these families, expanding the food options for program participants and retaining local jobs in the participating restaurants.