Camden County officials launched $20 million in grants for small businesses Thursday and said more than $6 million worth were claimed before the end of the day.
The grants, which are being made available through the federal coronavirus economic relief package enacted earlier this year, will provide up to $10,000 to small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. Assuming that all applicants qualify, county officials said they will distribute the money in the next two weeks, and that they hope to launch a second round of funding later this year.
“We’re hoping this will be a shot in the arm for many, many businesses,” Louis Cappelli Jr., director of the county board of freeholders, said at a news conference in Collingswood.
Applications for the program went live at 8 a.m., and within two hours business owners had applied for close to $1 million. Applications can be submitted at camdencountycares.com.
Yolanda Deaver, who owns the Prissy Chic beauty salon in Camden, reopened three weeks ago after being closed for three months. She said Thursday that due to ongoing restrictions on indoor businesses, she can handle only two appointments a day instead of eight. She estimated that she lost about $40,000 in revenue while her doors were shut.
“This would allow me the opportunity to pay my bills, help my staff, and buy supplies,” she said.
To qualify, Camden County business owners must show that they lost revenue since the pandemic shutdowns began and that they earned less than $5 million last year. The grants were made available to businesses with 25 or fewer employees.
Nichelle Pace, of the Camden Business Association, said she hoped the grants would spark larger discussions about how municipalities and county officials can better support minority businesses.
“This is temporary,” she said of the grants. “We have a lot of work to do when it comes to economic justice.”