By Tara Smith, HKS Communications Coordinator
Historic Kennett Square has announced that the grant review committee for the Small Business Response Fund has distributed 41 grants to consumer-facing small businesses in Kennett Square Borough and Kennett Township. All funds donated to the fund by individuals and corporate sponsors were matched by a generous donation from Square Roots Collective.
“With a tremendous outpouring of support from community members, we raised $91,400 in the first round,” says Historic Kennett Square Executive Director Bo Wright. “The match from Square Roots Collective gave us $182,800 to distribute to small retail businesses that have been struggling to keep their doors open over the months of the shutdown.”
While those who received SBRF grants are grateful for the relief, says Historic Kennett Square’s Economic Development Director Nate Echeverria, the need is still great. “There have already been seven applications for the second round. The demand for these funds is high,” Echeverria says. A generous $25,000 grant from the Longwood Foundation has kicked off the fundraising for this second round.
“The more community members contribute, the more support we’ll be able to offer Kennett’s small businesses to ensure our community’s continued vibrancy,” says Wright. “Square Roots Collective will match all donations up to $250,000, so there are still a lot of matching funds generously offered.”
In the first round, Echeverria says, the grant review committee was impressed by the creative and proactive plans applicants presented for making changes to keep everyone safe and for pivoting their business models to serve customers going forward. “We have a very strong, innovative, and hard-working business community.”
In addition to adapting to ever-changing circumstances, small business owners have faced a bewildering array of aid options over the past months. “From the first days of the shutdown, it became clear that one of the key ways Historic Kennett Square could serve our business community was by providing up-to-date and accurate information in the constantly evolving landscape around federal, state, and county grant and loan programs,” says Wright. “As the shutdown wore on, however, it also became very clear to us that the aid available through these sources was not going to be enough or the right fit for many of our local businesses.”
A targeted, local solution was in order. “The story of the Small Business Response Fund has been one of overwhelming generosity and care for our community,” Wright says. “It began with a conversation with Mike Bontrager. The mission of Square Roots Collective, to advance the Kennett community so all residents can thrive, is very much aligned with the work of HKS. Mike’s generous offer of matching funds activated community generosity. While some key corporate sponsors gave large gifts to the SBRF, the HKS staff has been impressed by the sheer number of individuals in the community who participated by making donations to the fund. We’re asking people to name a favorite Kennett small business when they donate, and the majority of individual donors replied with some version of ‘All of them—we love our community.’ Every donation makes a difference, and the engagement of a community that supports its businesses in such a way makes us very positive and hopeful about coming out of this stronger than ever.”
Donations for the second round of the Small Business Response Fund will be matched, dollar for dollar, and will help still more entrepreneurs in our community to survive and get back to business.
Find more information at KennettSBRF.com