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To help small businesses—especially minority- and women-run enterprises in places bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s economic impact—LISC and Verizon recently announced the first round of grantees of the Verizon COVID Small Business Relief Fund, now totaling $7.5 million. Two Indianapolis small businesses will each receive $10,000 from the first round of funding.
LICK Ice Cream, located in the Circle City Industrial Complex at the corner of Mass Ave and 10th Street on Indianapolis' Near Eastside, is a sister-owned artisan ice cream operation that opened in 2010. Their focus is on local fruit, herb and spice-infused ice cream, all handcrafted with organic waffle cones. Download logo Download photo Watch video
Vee’s Sandwich Shop, located at 2601 W Michigan St. in the River West Great Place, is owned by an African-American husband-wife duo. The restaurant focuses on breakfast, brunch, sandwiches and more. Download photo
“We are proud to support Vee’s Sandwich Shop, a vital cultural and culinary institution in the River West Great Place and LICK Ice Cream, an innovative locally-sourced food business located in the Circle City Industrial Complex,” said Tedd Grain, Executive Director, LISC Indianapolis. “Both exemplify our commitment to neighborhood small businesses that contribute both culture and economy to our community.”
In total, 225 entrepreneurs nationwide who have had limited access to mainstream capital sources, will put their $10K grants to use to keep their businesses, families and local economies afloat and strong. These critical funds will work to keep enterprises up and running in the face of devastating economic pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping business owners pay wages, rent and other immediate operational costs.
The grants were made possible by an unprecedented commitment from Verizon, a total gift of $7.5 million—$2.5 million for each of three application rounds. This means that some 750 small businesses will benefit from the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund— and they, in turn, will be able to continue supporting their families, their staff and their communities.
Within days of posting the application for the first round of grant funding, LISC received 55,000 responses—an overwhelming testament to the profound need among small business owners in every corner of America. A survey just published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 40 percent of small businesses have had to lay off staff and most are financially fragile, with barely enough reserves to cover a month’s expenses or less.
In this first round of grantees, 96 percent are minority business owners, 62 percent are women, and 12 percent are veterans. Ninety percent of all the entrepreneurs are under stay-at-home orders in their communities, and a full 87 percent live and do business in places that are designated economically distressed. These entrepreneurs have had few avenues to capital from mainstream markets.
The fund has gotten an extra push from Verizon’s twice weekly Pay It Forward Live entertainment streams, which will continue through May. The series has welcomed viewers into the living rooms of the likes of Alicia Keys, Billy Eilish and Dave Matthews for intimate performances, and of the titans of online gaming. For every viewer who tweets #payitforwardlive and shouts out a favorite small business, Verizon kicks in an extra $10 to the fund.
Application period for round 3 is now open but ends tonight, May 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Before applying, please review the grant information and FAQ here. Round Two grantees will be announced on May 28, 2020.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Indianapolis is the local office of a national organization that helps resident-led, community-based development organizations transform distressed communities and neighborhoods into healthy ones — good places to live, do business, work, and raise families. By providing capital, technical expertise, training, and information, LISC supports the development of local leadership and the creation of affordable housing; commercial, industrial, and community facilities; businesses; and jobs. In short, we help neighbors build communities