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The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the fashion, beauty and retail industries is staggering, as major retailers have shuttered their doors, halted production and even furloughed most of their employees in response to the virus.
While major companies are experiencing setbacks, small businesses across the country and the globe are feeling the brunt of the losses with many independent fashion labels ceasing operations, streamlining their collections and making other changes in anticipation for an uncertain future post-COVID-19.
Several major companies and cities across the country have responded to the challenges facing small businesses amid the pandemic by creating grants to keep them afloat, including the likes of Facebook, Google and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
The $2 trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package signed by President Donald Trump last week also offers respite to small business owners, with a $350 billion federal small business loan program.
Here, WWD lists seven grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amazon has created a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to offer cash grants to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue in the Seattle area, including in the South Lake Union, Bellevue and Regrade neighborhoods.
The grant is meant for small businesses, which rely on foot traffic, to pay their employees, rent and other fixed costs.
Applications can be submitted at smallbusinessrelieffund.com and will be reviewed by a third party.
Council of Fashion Designers of America
The Council of Fashion Designers of America is repurposing its CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and renaming the initiative, A Common Thread. The new grant program will benefit fashion designers impacted by the pandemic.
Applicants can be designers and brands across the industry and do not have to be CFDA members. Anyone in the fashion industry who has been in business for over two years may apply starting on April 8.
The grant program targets small to medium-size businesses including designers, retailers, factories and other fashion companies. Grants will be awarded up to $100,000. The CFDA has raised over $3 million in fund-raising for the grant since its inception on March 24.
The application process consists of designers and brands submitting videos that show their fashion stories, including how they’ve been impacted by the virus.
COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund
San Francisco has created the COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund for businesses impacted by the pandemic. The fund grants up to $10,000 to businesses to pay their employees and rent.
To be eligible for the fund, businesses must have between one and five employees and show a loss of revenue of 25 percent because of the pandemic. Businesses must also have gross receipts less than $2.5 million and participate in activities regulated by the city.
Businesses can apply for the fund on San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development web site.
Facebook chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg announced on March 17 that the company is creating a $100 million grant program for small businesses experiencing financial hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grants will go to about 30,000 businesses across the 30 countries where Facebook has employees. Part of the grants will be “ad credits” that businesses can use to advertise on the social media platform.
Facebook will begin accepting applications for the grants in the next few weeks.
Google is offering $800 million in grants to support small and medium-sized businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the $800 million, $340 million will be given in ad grants to these businesses with active accounts. The ad grants can be used until the end of the year across the company’s advertising platforms. A $200 million grant will also be given to financial institutions and non-profit organizations that help provide small businesses with capital.
The company is also offering $250 million in ad grants to the World Health Organization and over 100 government agencies worldwide that are providing information to stop the spread of COVID-19.
New York City Employee Retention Grant Program
New York City launched the Employee Retention Grant Program in response to the growing number of businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19.
The program is available for New York City businesses with between one to four employees that can demonstrate a loss of 25 percent in revenue as a result of the pandemic. Eligible businesses will receive a grant covering up to 40 percent of their payroll for two months and can access up to $27,000.
Small businesses can apply for the program at the nyc.gov web site.
Paycheck Protection Program
The U.S. government’s $2 trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package signed last week includes a $350 billion federal small business loan program called the Paycheck Protection Program.
The program is meant to incentivize small businesses to keep their employees on payroll by providing up to $10 million in loans to pay salaries, rent and other fixed costs. The program’s parameters show that businesses that keep their employees on payroll for eight weeks will be eligible for partial or total loan forgiveness.
Small businesses eligible for the program are those with fewer than 500 employees.
Details on applying for the program are expected to be posted on the Small Business Administration’s web site in the next few days.
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