Downtown Mt. Vernon Development Small Business Grants

May 12, 2020

The Downtown Mt. Vernon Development Corporation saw a need to help its downtown businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know this is hard on every business, but particularly hard on small businesses like we have in Downtown Mt. Vernon,” commented Debbie Arning, Administrator for the DMDC. “We knew of a way we could help and a committee formed to put it into action.”

Made up of ex-officio members of the Board of Directors under the direction of the President and Administrator guidelines and an application were created and sent to the full board. After that, information was dispersed to downtown businesses via an email blast, posting on the organization’s social media and through news release on April 20, 2020.

Funds totaling $30.000 that were being considered for a building improvement program were instead allocated for this grant program. Two options were created to attempt to fill the needs of the downtown businesses–a Rent/Utility Assistance Grant and a Restart Grant. A swift timeline was suggested to get funds into the hands of the businesses fast and a deadline of noon on May 1, 2020 was set with selection to be done by random lottery drawing. The committee met several times as grant applications were received and requested additional information from some applicants to ensure information was clear for the review.

“We are pleased to announce we were able to fund grants for each applicant and did not have to do a lottery drawing,” stated DMDC President Rex Cusumano. “We are really proud of the growth we have had in downtown Mt. Vernon and we want to keep that momentum going. The point of this program is to help businesses stay open in our downtown.”

Applicants were notified shortly after noon and most picked their checks up by 3 p.m. the same day.

“I am so happy we were able to invest these funds back into our downtown businesses through these emergency grants,” Arning continued. “We are excited to assist them and support them as we navigate through what is going to be our new normal.”