The News-Times

Bethel offers second round of small business COVID grants

- By Kendra Baker

BETHEL — Eligible local businesses in pandemic-induced financial straits have until next month to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 through the town’s Small Business Assistance Program.

More than $127,000 has been granted to 34 businesses in town since the inception of the Economic Developmen­t Commission­proposed program four months ago, and another round of funding is on the horizon.

The town is accepting applicatio­ns for secondroun­d small business assistance grants through Feb. 1.

“This second round is intended for those small businesses that for various reasons did not apply during the first round,” Economic Developmen­t Commission Chair Mike Boyle said.

Bethel’s Small Business Assistance Program provides limited, one-time direct financial assistance in the form of a grant to eligible small businesses in town that employ 25 or fewer employees and have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

Funding for the program comes from a $350,000 allocation of the town’s federal American Rescue Plan Act stimulus money.

The program goal is to provide financial support to up to 70 small businesses in town, according to Janice Chrzescija­nek, economic developmen­t director.

She said local and state surveys have shown nearly all small businesses have been negatively affected by the pandemic and are continuing to experience declining revenue, increased expenses and decreased profitabil­ity.

One Bethel business that closed following the coronaviru­s outbreak in 2020 was Bethel Cinema on Greenwood Avenue. Financial problems led to its shutdown early on in the pandemic. The theater is under new ownership and is expected to reopen under a new name.

As the pandemic enters a second year, economic developmen­t officials in Bethel continue to monitor its impact on local businesses.

“As businesses deal with some of the same challenges from last year, a new set of challenges lie ahead — especially with the continued uncertaint­y of the pandemic,” Chrzescija­nek said.

The financial resources provided through the program not only enables businesses to address some of those challenges, but helps strengthen them, she said.

The applicatio­n for the second round of Small Business Assistance Program grants is available at https://bit.ly/BethelBusi­nessGrants­2022.

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