Commerce Lexington to manage city’s latest small business stimulus program

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Following the success of last year’s local economic stimulus grants for small business, Lexington has approved a second round of funding.

“Small businesses in Lexington and across the country have been hit hard by fallout from the pandemic,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “The more support we provide, the faster our economy will rebound.” The grant program in 2020 resulted in nearly $2.4 million in funding for local small businesses and nonprofits, with about 67% going to businesses owned by women and/or minorities.

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Commerce Lexington Inc. will once again manage the Small Business Economic Recovery Program through its existing Access Loan small business financing program.

Applications can be submitted starting Tuesday, May 18.

Tyrone Tyra with Commerce Lexington said in the first few hours, dozens of business already applied.

“They just laid the groundwork for the summer of recovery with this funding opportunity,” Tyra said.

Through the program, eligible small businesses will be able to apply for up to $25,000 based on sustaining or increasing employment and/or payroll within one year following the grant award.

They say while last year’s grant program was focused on emergency costs like PPE, this year it’s about getting employees back to work and keeping them by giving businesses more money to pay them.

“A lot of people that have come through this pandemic they fought hard, and I think they should be rewarded with them for their hard work,” Council member Preston Worley said.

And small businesses this year will have benchmarks to meet for additional employment and/or payroll.

Companies that do not meet those benchmarks will be required to pay back the grant based on a sliding scale related to their performance.

“The best way that grows our city, would be wage growth, job growth, net profit, so this feels like a much better win win for all of us long term,” Amanda Bledsoe, Council member, said.

Businesses must meet the following criteria to apply for grant assistance:

  • Be located in Lexington/Fayette County.
  • Have a current business license filed with the City.
  • Have been in operation since January 1, 2021.
  • Restricted to sole proprietors, limited liabilities, corporations, not-for-profits or non-profits.
  • Maximum of 50 full-time equivalent employees (max of 100 for restaurants).
  • All business taxes, payroll taxes and other payments to the City & the Commonwealth of Kentucky must be current.
  • Show ability to retain or exceed current employment and/or payroll levels.

Commerce Lexington Inc. President and CEO Bob Quick, said, “I would like to especially thank Councilmember Preston Worley for taking the lead on this issue, as well as the members of the Urban County Council for providing multiple rounds of grant funding for small businesses. Our team is excited to assist in the application process and help hard-hit small businesses in our community.”

To find out more about the city’s Small Business Economic Recovery Program’s eligibility requirements, the documentation necessary to apply, and to access the application on-line, visit www.commercelexington.com/recovery.html.

For questions about the application process, contact Tyrone Tyra at either (859) 226-1625 or (859) 226-1631, or e-mail to ttyra@commercelexington.com.

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com