Now, with the “Services That Back Us” grant, the initiative is reaching out to offer support to the small businesses within the service industry.
In its announcement statement, Amex acknowledged that these businesses play a vital role in communities and lives and, at the same time, recognized that service-based businesses rely heavily on in-person customers making the need to be incredibly innovative in adapting and re-adapting in the pandemic an absolute necessity.
The grant program is designed to support U.S. service-based small businesses including hair salons, barbershops, dry cleaners, tailors, cobblers, beauty and day spas, dressmakers and seamstresses, among others. Small business owners can apply for the grant program beginning now through March 1.
“Whether it’s a relaxing massage, freshly manicured nails or a new haircut, our local spas, barbers and other service businesses play a big role in our daily lives and our communities,” said Colleen Taylor, president of merchant services at American Express, U.S. “We’re proud to partner with Main Street America to launch the ‘Services That Back Us’ grant program and provide resources to our favorite service businesses throughout pandemic recovery.”
Moreover, Taylor applauded service-based small businesses for constant reinvention since the onset of the pandemic while recognizing it has not been without challenges. “The constant ebb and flow of foot traffic has continued to be a challenge as new COVID-19 variants have emerged,” she said. “We hope these grants will help them stay open, keep innovating and continue to grow through this next phase of recovery.”
In partnership with Main Street America, the grant will award 75 U.S. personal service industry small businesses with $5,000 to be used toward critical needs for their businesses. These needs could include physical and digital improvements, new equipment, technology or training to help support financial recovery and growth plans.
Notably, the program is similar to the company’s formation of the Coalition to Back Black Businesses in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in September 2020. Amex shared with WWD that the grant program has now awarded grants to more than 1,000 Black-owned small businesses since its launch. Overall, the program has committed $10 million to support Black-owned small business recovery in the U.S. over the next four years.
The Black-owned small businesses selected by the CBBB were each awarded $5,000 in funding and owners have reported they are very optimistic about the future of their businesses.
One recipient of the grant, Lundyn Carter, cofounder and chief executive officer of Laine London, an Atlanta-based bridal shop, told the company she has used the money to “enhance the customer experience, including leveraging digital capabilities to create personalized styles and recommendations for brides.” And similarly, grant recipient Bronwyn Morgan, CEO of Xeo Air Inc., a St. Louis- and Atlanta-based company that collects data for businesses using drones, told Amex she plans to invest the money in “sales, marketing and operations to bolster our foundation and more broadly amplify our customer value proposition.”
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