Save Small Business Fund Helps Hundreds of Small Employers Keep Their Dreams Alive
As the COVID-19 crisis continues into its seventh month, many small businesses across the nation are facing an uncertain future. According to the latest MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll, most small businesses are concerned about financial hardship due to prolonged closures (70%), and more than half worry about having to permanently close (58%).
In April, the U.S. Chamber Foundation launched the Save Small Business Fund — a business-led program to distribute $5,000 supplemental grants to small employers fighting for survival amid the pandemic.
“We are a small, family operated business that’s been in existence since the 1940s. We’ve never really seen anything like this in our lifetimes. It scared our employees and our clients, and put a hold on a lot of decisions to hire us,” said Save Small Business grantee David Costanzo, who runs an appliance business in Boynton Beach, FL.
Since its launch, the Save Small Business Fund has raised over $8M and delivered support to hundreds of small employers in 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. These grants helped support machine shops, food trucks, nail salons, dentists, bakeries, tech startups, and a surf shop, to name a few. Though the grants couldn’t cover all business expenses, the Save Small Business Fund grantees tell us the funds were an important bridge to help bring back employees, pay another month or two of rent and insurance, or handle the significant new costs for reopening safely.
“The grant is our rent so that allows us to know, ‘okay, we will be here and we will be in this space and we will be open and we will be serving the community that we love, who love us, and it’s awesome to know’,” said Kassata Bollman, owner of Bruce & Son Restaurant in Greenport, NY.
The Save Small Business Fund focused on helping small employers in communities that have long been struggling with economic growth. “We're a small town and we don't get a lot of grants. We're only fifteen hundred people in our town. So to get something like this is pretty phenomenal,” said grantee Kerry Butler, who owns a donut shop in Gordon, NE.
The impact of the pandemic is being felt disproportionately by minority and women-owned businesses. Minority-owned business owners are more likely to report difficulty obtaining loans, express fears about permanently closing, and predict declining revenues in the coming year. Additionally, female small business owners are less likely to expect future revenue, investment, and staffing growth compared to male-owned small businesses. Nearly half of the Save Small Business grants were distributed to minority and women-owned small businesses, to help them weather the immediate economic impacts of the crisis.
In addition to small businesses, the Save Small Business Fund was also able to help local chambers of commerce, which are vital members of communities and local economies.
“We jumped up and down with joy, cried tears of hope, and let the stress go away for a moment due to this gift of hope for us. It may be small to some but it is mighty for us,” said an employee at the Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce in Oregon after learning that they would receive a Save Small Business grant.
Over the last few months, the private sector has led the charge in responding to the pandemic to help communities in need - be it through supporting frontline workers, shifting their operations to produce medical supplies, or contributing to programs such as the Save Small Business Fund. By coming together to extend a helping hand to small businesses in their time of need, the Fund’s founding partners – Vistaprint, Merck, Altice, and American Express – and supporting partners – Guardian, S&P Global Foundation, Travelers, and The Match: Champions for Charity – made it possible for hundreds of small employers to keep their dreams alive.
“It was just a huge emotional relief when I got the phone call saying that I've been approved for the grants. It’s so nice because everything else up to that point had been really just kind of negative, negative, negative. And then suddenly, it was positive,” said grantee Jack Neal, owner of Franny’s Bistro in Camden, ME.
Watch our video to hear directly from the Save Small Business grantees and learn more about their stories.