Companies in rural communities have an economic lifeline opportunity they may not know about.
The Rural Relief Small Business Grant from LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corp.) and Lowe's provides one-time grants to businesses and enterprises in rural America that have been affected by COVID-19. LISC defines “rural communities” as having a population of 50,000 or less. and is interested especially in serving small businesses in underserved communities, including businesses owned by women, veterans and people of color.
“Applications are being accepted in ‘rounds,’” LISC officials stated in an announcement Tuesday released by Brunswick Community College’s Small Business Center. “You must submit a new application for each round in order to be considered for funding in that round. The next round opens on Monday, September 28th.”
Grants are made in the range of $5,000 to $20,000, according to information on the program’s website
. Because they are not loans, they do not need to be repaid.
"Some businesses in Brunswick County have applied in previous rounds," said April Scott, director of BCC's Small Business Center. "It's about a seven- to nine-minute application process, and LISC is very specific about how the money can be used."
Although LISC developed this grant program several months ago in response to the problems small businesses have experienced because of the coronavirus, previous rounds of this grant program have not focused so specifically on small businesses in rural areas, Scott added.
Applications will be reviewed based on criteria designed to prioritize particularly challenged businesses, and the final grantees will be randomly selected from the top-scoring applicants.
The Rural Relief Small Business Grant website provides more details on the program, which is funded by Lowe’s Companies Inc. An interactive map allows potential applicants to see whether their business location qualifies as rural.
Frequently asked questions, including about LISC, are answered here