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Demographic data released for Fast Forward Monroe

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

County Executive Adam Bello recently announced demographic data for recipients of the Fast Forward Monroe small business grant program.

The $17 million program was designed to support small local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a response to a countywide business survey and provides financial assistance to small businesses with up 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.

“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,” Bello said. “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.”

Under the program, businesses were able to receive grants of up to $10,000, $15,000 and $20,000 depending on the number of employees. 

Staff from Monroe County Department of Planning and Development reviewed and processed 2,007 applications for the program and approved 1,315. Nearly half of all businesses receiving grants were in low- or moderate-income ZIP codes. About 44% of approved applications were from women-owned businesses and 25% were from minority-owned businesses; 14% were from businesses that were both women- and minority-owned. About 58% of companies identified themselves as diverse business enterprises.

Bello authorized up to an additional $4 million to continue the Fast Forward Monroe grant program. This funding will help businesses that did not receive assistance through the first round. Department staff will be available to help applicants who have incomplete applications or eligibility questions.

“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,” said Ana Liss, director of Monroe County Planning and Development. “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.”

Grants were provided to an array of companies representing numerous industries in the county. About 22% went to restaurants; 12% to salons, spas, barbershops and nail salons; and 10% to companies providing retail or other consumer goods. About 20% 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. The average amount dispersed was $12,593.15. The median number of full-time employees for grant recipients was three, with an average recipient having 5.3 full-time employees.

Stock photo.