The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP) announced a full list of recipients for the program’s ALX B2B program — grant funding aimed at helping local businesses hold out through a sluggish recovery — and is moving forward on another phase of the program.
With the first batch of the funding being distributed to Alexandria businesses, AEDP said the process is starting for figuring out how to divvy up the next batch of state funding between the city’s needs.
“The city received a communication yesterday from the Governor that they will be allocating second half of local funding for CARES dollars,” said Stephanie Landrum, President and CEO of AEDP. “[The City] is going to receive the exact same amount as the first time. That was an important piece we were waiting on. We needed to make sure there was funding. Now that that news has come, we’re working with the City Manager to determine how that money will be allocated.”
The first allocation was divided between funding for grants alongside funding for rental assistance and other needs. Landrum said City Manager Mark Jinks will need to work with the City Council to see if, and how, the percentages of funding allocation need to change this time around.
Meanwhile, Landrum said AEDP has learned a lot from the first round of grant requests.
“We learned a lot about how businesses are structured in the city,” Landrum said. “The proposal for round two would expand eligibility.”
Requirements would change to provide a way for businesses who opened within the last year to prove their financial stability. Landrum also said various types of daycares and contractor-based programs that were excluded the first time around will be included, like barber shops whose employees did not qualify for the first round of the program.
“We recognize that in order for all of us to get back to business, daycare has to be a foundation that’s up and running,” Landrum said. “We had around five to ten daycares that received grants in round 1, but we wanted to reach out to non-profits and providers who are home-based so we can get as many daycares as we can.”
AEDP approved 303 small business grants of the roughly 335 that applied. Those who were deemed ineligible the first time around because of circumstances that will change the second time can work with AEDP to “resurrect” their initial application.
The businesses were broken into three categories:
- Group A: 2-24 employees, eligible for $10,000
- Group B: 25-49 employees, eligible for $15,000
- Group C: 50-100 employees, eligible for $20,000
The over-300 businesses ranged from local eateries (Buzz Bakeshop, Italian Gourmet Deli), salons (Meraki Nail & Spa LLC, The Ultimate Barber) and media companies (Alexandria Times, Connection Newspapers) at the lowest level to larger companies like Port City Brewing Company, The Birchmere and Rooftop Chimney Sweeps LLC at the highest level.
While most of the businesses on the list are very local, some stand out as part of larger chains, like four Subway restaurants and two Dunkin Donuts. Landrum explained that though these are national brands, they are owned and operated by local business owners.
“In our eligibility criteria, we required the businesses to be locally owned and operated,” Landrum said. “What that required is that for a national brand, like Subway, the applicant needed to prove they were a franchisee that lives in the region and operates a Subway franchise as a small business.”
While AEDP said businesses approved for grants came from across the city, Landrum said that roughly 60% of applications came from the zip code that includes Old Town, Carlyle and Potomac Yard. This was, in AEDP’s defense, where roughly 50% of the city’s businesses are located according to the city. The geographic data was just one part of a series of demographics collected by AEDP.
Four applications were received from a portion of Fairfax sometimes mislabeled as Alexandria, but Landrum said AEDP was able to contact those businesses and refer them to a similar program for Fairfax County businesses.
Landrum said she hopes that even outside of the grant programs, local businesses continue to work with AEDP to try to find ways of adapting their businesses. During the peak of the pandemic, Alexandria allowed businesses to conduct businesses on sidewalks and parking lots. Afterwards Landrum said some businesses approached AEDP with other proposals, like doing haircuts outside. That idea was shot down, noting that causing hair to blow everywhere was not considered sanitary, but it was the kind of idea that Landrum said local businesses are turning to as they try to survive the economic repercussions of the shutdown.
“Yes, we want to help during this difficult time, but want to help during the recovery as you recover,” Landrum said. “It’s going to be a while.”
Top photo by James Cullum, map courtesy AEDP