Urban Council may consider phase 2 of small business grant program

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington’s $2.5 million small business grant program was so successful this summer the Urban Council may approve a second phase early next year.

The Urban Council established the program as part of its 2020-21 budget as part of an effort to help businesses get through shutdowns and closings during the coronaviuirus pandemic.

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Businesses could get up to $25,000 to help offset rent, payroll, the purchase of PPEs and other expenses.

City staff and the Loan Committee of Commerce Lexington made a final report (bfed_2020-12-01 (2)) Tuesday to the Council’s Budget Committee, which was part of the original agreement to provide transparency and accountability.

A total of 168 businesses received grants totaling more than $2.35 million. Commerce Lexington received a fee for vetting, analyzing and processing loan applications.

A total of 234 businesses applied. Of the ones that weren’t funded, many either had tax issues with the city or couldn’t provide requested documentation.

More than 60 percent of the recipients were woman or minority-owned. The Council had mandated at least half fall into those categories.

The owners said the grants helped them stay open. And Council members say they will consider more in January.

“Making payroll that allowed me to pay some other bills,” Debbie Long, the owner of Dudley’s on Short said of how the grant helped the restaurant get by.

“The grant funds helped us by paying rent and buying PPEs which were an unexpected expense,” added Anthony Hayden, the owner of the Lexington Academy of Barbering.

“I think there’s no doubt about this program and the impact it has benefited our whole community,” said Council member James Brown in urging his fellow committee members to consider a second round of grants in January.

Council members say even with the advent of vaccines, businesses will need financial assistance for at least six more months if not longer.