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Business Fort Worth approves $10M for small business grant program

Fort Worth approves $10M for small business grant program

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Applications for Preserve the Fort grants open Tuesday, May 26, and will close at 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 8. Business owners can apply at fortworthtexas.gov/preserve-the-fort.

Fort Worth, in conjunction with the United Way of Tarrant County has approved a $10 million business stabilization grant program aimed at small businesses.

At the May 19 Fort Worth City Council meeting, members approved the plan to use part of the $158 million federal stimulus funding to from the program, named Save the Fort.

The $10 million will go for grants with a maximum of $50,000 for Fort Worth small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the council presentation, $2.5 million will be devoted to minority-owned business; $2.5 million to businesses located in the city’s Neighborhood Empowerment Zones and Designated Investment Zones; and $5 million for city-wide small business support.

The program provides funding for small businesses, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, self-employed persons and nonprofits organizations serving the business community.

Robert Sturns, Fort Worth economic development director, noted that the city has between 38,000 and 39,000 small businesses.

“These grants are critical to helping support and preserve the city’s small business community, which has helped define so much of Fort Worth’s character,” said Sturns. “As businesses across the state start to reopen, these grants can help offset some of the costs from the recent shutdown and provide a way forward for those small businesses who have been hit hardest.”

Applications for the program will open May 26 and close two weeks later June 8. The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce will promote the program.

“We applaud the City of Fort Worth for developing the Preserve the Fort Grant Program and using CARES Act funding to help our small business community,” said Leah King, President and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County, in a statement. “The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating to so many small business owners who had to close because of the shelter-in-place restrictions. It is our sincere hope that these funds allow them to get back on their feet and position them for long-term success.”

The council vote was not unanimous. District 4 Councilman Cary Moon voted against the program.

The city also created a housing assistance program with more than $15 million in funding to help residents impacted by the pandemic to help them pay for rent, mortgage, utilities, food and health care. About half the funding for that program is from the federal stimulus package.

Grant funds are open to businesses who fit the following criteria:

  • Small business (250 employees or less).
  • Located within the City of Fort Worth, with a Fort Worth mailing address.
  • Registered to do business in the State of Texas.
  • Business must have been in operation since Sep. 1, 2019.
  • Self-employed individuals, independent contractors, sole proprietors, and nonprofits serving the business community are also eligible.

If a business has already received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they are still eligible to receive these funds. However, priority will be given to businesses that have not received funding through these programs.

For more information about eligibility requirements and other questions, a list of frequently asked questions is available on the Preserve the Fort webpage in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

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