Grants to be offered to help businesses get back on their feet

Dr. Marcus Louis Britton and Brandi Long, vice-chair and chairman of the Tupelo Economic Recovery Task Force, respectively, wrap up a press conference Monday for grants to businesses affected by the pandemic.

Small businesses could be eligible for monies under the Back to Business grant program set up by the Mississippi Development Authority’s Back to Business Help and Resource Center. A press conference held Monday at the BancorpSouth Arena outlined next week’s undertaking and featured comments by some local officials involved in the process. “The opportunity for a grant will help many businesses get back on their feet,” said Brandi Long, chairman of the Tupelo Economic Recovery Task Force, a citizens’ group charged with leading the city’s recovery from the economic downturn precipitated by a months-long shutdown of many businesses. The task force numbers about three dozen members drawn from all walks of life. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, June 23-25, business owners of companies with 50 or fewer employees will be able to meet with grant representatives to receive advice and help with filling out the lengthy application (20 pages). Long and David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Community Development Foundation, advised that the process should take about two hours and is on a first-come, first-served basis; reservations are not required. The service is free. The hours Tuesday are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the BancorpSouth Arena. Long said there will be an orientation in a holding area, where attendees will be given jump drives (thumb/flash drives); small groups will be led into the Arena to meet with counselors at workstations. Afterward, applicants will be able to download, print and scan their qualifying documents into computers at a central station. Press conference speakers Monday stressed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis will be observed. Dr. Marcus Louis Britton, vice-chairman of the Tupelo Economic Recovery Task Force, said he will be present to ensure those guidelines are followed. The minimum grant will be $1,500 while the maximum is $25,000. Any funds received from other programs such as the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program and possibly some others will offset the amount of Back to Business grants. “I’m very excited about this,” said Tommie Lee Ivy, president of the Lee County Board of Supervisors. “This is a great example of our city and county working together to improve business,” Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said. Although the Help Center’s focus will be business owners in Tupelo and Lee County, Shelton said none “will be turned away.” More information and printable applications may be found at: www.tupelotogether.com www.backtobusinessms.org www.cdf.ms/guide Sponsors of the event include: • Tupelo Economic Recovery Task Force • Community Development Foundation • Lee County Supervisors • Three Rivers Planning & Development • United Way of Northeast Mississippi • CREATE Foundation • Itawamba Community College “We are here to provide technical assistance,” said Long. Participants seeking legal and accounting advice should consult with their attorneys and accountants.

C. Richard Cotton

Freelance writer/photographer/editor/author

243 County Road 783

Saltillo MS 38866

rcotton5@att.net

662-231-6222

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