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311 Summit County businesses receive grants due to COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 5:16 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 18:57:41-04

FAIRLAWN, Ohio — Leia Love refers to her hair and nail shop in Fairlawn as "your head to toe beauty pros," but due to the pandemic, no one has been able to get a hair cut, manicure or massage since the business was forced to close on March 18.

Love, 38, stands to lose thousands of dollars each month the salon is closed and she worries about her four employees. Only one of them has been able to get unemployment money.

"The other ones have been on the system. They've been calling. Nobody can get through," Love said. "We've been greatly impacted because we cannot work at all. We're 100% shut down."

Love applied for and received a $5,000 grant from Summit County and the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce. She will use the money to pay her rent and her temporarily laid off workers.

"It has been a huge blessing and a stress reliever," she said. "It's just been a breath of fresh air."

This week, county officials announced a total of 311 small business grants, totaling $1,546,000, were awarded throughout Summit County.

Other businesses receiving money include restaurants, jewelry shops, fitness centers, healthcare companies, plumbers, veterinarians, hotels, breweries and many more.

More than 1,000 businesses applied for the grants after the program was announced on March 30.

Steve Millard, the president and CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber, said more than 600 small businesses were eligible for the grants, but there was only enough money to help about half of them.

Millard said a scoring system was used to determine which businesses would get the grants. Criteria included having 3 to 25 employees with more than 50% of the employees residing in Summit County.

The criteria also looked at the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses and whether those businesses were disadvantaged.

According to the county, grant recipients represent 24 of Summit County's 31 communities with 47% of the recipients categorized as disadvantaged businesses.

Millard said 86% of minority-owned businesses that applied for a grant and were qualified got one.

He said there's an on-going effort to find more funding for other businesses struggling because of the pandemic.

"We know how frustrated folks are. We know how real the need is," Millard said. "I think additional funding is going to be based on the generosity of folks coming forward. We're out letting folks know what we've done and asking for that support."

You can read the full list of grant recipients, here.