The city of Fort Worth is preparing to launch another round of grants meant to assist businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With nearly $9 million left in its business-related CARES Act allocation, applications for the second round of "Preserve the Fort" business grants will soon open. Robert Sturns, director of economic development for the city of Fort Worth, said they’re aiming to open applications no later than Sept. 8.
“We’re trying to sustain as many businesses as we can,” Sturns said. “We don’t know what the next two, three, four months are going to look like for our small businesses.”
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During the first round of grants, the city distributed $6.2 million to 842 businesses in Fort Worth. Of the companies that applied, 95% were businesses with 25 employees or fewer.
“This round, we’re really trying to get more of the mid-sized companies, up to a max of 500 employees. We also have a focus on the bars and music venues that were closed per the governor’s orders,” Sturns said. “They have not had really any income coming in, other than those that have been able to pivot to doing some type of hybrid of food and beverage sales.”
Brooks Kendall is the owner of The Post at River East on Race Street in Fort Worth. The music venue opened in June 2019 with kitchen and bar services, according to Kendall. They resumed dine-in service this weekend after reopening under a restaurant permit.
Like other establishments, they closed for a second time in late June after bars were ordered to close under executive orders.
“Even being open to the public for dine-in, the rules to how we do that, to how we do that safely requires additional staff,” Kendall said. “It’d be one thing if we just could say, ‘You’re going to close for this long and here’s the date you’re going to be able to reopen,' but it’s not like that. The hard part is planning for it. I mean, aside from the obvious of having the money to do it.”
Kendall said he planned to apply for the second round of grants, which allows bars and music venues that were forced to close June 26 to be eligible for up to three times their lost average monthly revenue before the COVID-19 disaster declaration of March 13.
That award will be capped at $100,000, according to city officials.
“The challenges right now are paying staff, paying rent and bills,” Kendall said. “The most basic fundamental thing is if we can’t pay the rent, we don’t have a building to do it in. Also when we go through these periods of where we have to be all takeout, we have to let go of a lot of staff.”
Under this second round, funding criteria have expanded to include nonprofit businesses, including local performance art venues.
Business owners will be expected to submit up to seven documents, including a 2019 Federal Tax Return and their Profit & Loss statement for 2019.
For more on the grant and eligibility, click here.