In Collin County, city of McKinney officials say they are launching an aggressive grant program for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
In the first round of funding earlier this month, the city offered small, $1,500 grants. In the second round, McKinney’s mayor said the city expects to supplement the fund with CARES Act money that is set aside for local governments to cover their COVID-19 costs.
Mayor George Fuller expects the city’s small business relief fund will be able to distribute at least $6.5 million in grants. Each business would be able to apply for $15,000 to $25,000 grants.
“This isn’t corporate entities with big golden parachutes and high salaries,” said Fuller. “These are our home-grown businesses, these are our community partners.”
“These aren’t bad decisions that people made, this isn’t extravagant spending, this is a pandemic that shut their doors,” Fuller added.
The grants would be aimed at small businesses and non-profits throughout the City of McKinney
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Kate Jones, the owner of Fair and Square Imports in downtown McKinney, said her business had to move fast to adapt during the pandemic.
“We pivoted pretty quickly, created a lot of digital content,” said Jones.
The shop began offering free local delivers and curbside pick up after it closed in mid-March. Even so, Jones said sales were down 70%.
Once the shop reopened its physical doors on May 1, Jones said the numbers were down 50%. An improvement, but hardly sustainable. Although many businesses have been allowed to reopen, Jones noticed fewer people getting out to shop.
“We’ve been taking it day by day and really putting on our creative thinking caps to see how we can reach out and help one another as businesses and as a downtown to make sure we’re all there in the end,” said Jones.
The shop has two full time and five part-time employees. A federal Payroll Protection Program loan helped Jones keep her full-time employees on and bring back the five part-time workers.
McKinney’s next round of grant funding would be open to businesses that accepted PPP, said Fuller. Many North Texas cities that offered grants to small businesses excluded those who received other types of assistance, like PPP funding.
Fuller said businesses need more help, heading into the third month of pandemic conditions.
“If you got PPP, that’s great. That gave you two and a half months of payroll,” Fuller said. “But, payroll is just one expense in a business.”
Fuller said city staff are currently hammering out the rules of the grant program to present to the city council next week. The city hopes to begin taking applications by June 1, said Fuller.
Jones welcomes any relief for local businesses.
“It won’t last forever and we just need to be able to cover our expenses through this. I think for some people downtown that will be what makes or breaks them,” Jones explained.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.