Alexandria group working on grant program to help small businesses reopen

As businesses find innovative ways to stay afloat during the coronavirus closures, they also have to look to the future and develop plans for how they will function after restrictions are eventually lifted.

In Alexandria, Virginia, a local group is helping with that effort.

“One of our areas of interest is small business recovery,” said Stephanie Landrum, CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership.

Landrum’s organization is a public-private partnership with Alexandria that normally promotes the city as a destination for businesses.

Now, her group is working to make sure that current business owners have a plan for the new normal that lies ahead.

“We’ve been assessing what resources are available to the business community and what the needs are moving forward,” said Landrum, who predicted that the recovery and stabilization of businesses could last at least “a couple of years.”

Landrum’s group has been working with the Alexandria City Council on how to spend its portion of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress approved in late March.

Around $2 million to $3 million will be used for a small business grant program that will help with the reopening process, according to Landrum.

“We want to step in and focus on that forward-facing restart,” she said.

Landrum’s group told businesses that they should be prepared for a new set of operating procedures that will likely force them to make investments in technology and different physical workspaces.

The grant program will be developed and refined over the next two or three weeks.

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“We anticipate thousands of applications for the grants,” said Landrum. “We want to make sure that we don’t fall into some of the challenges that other people giving grants have fallen into with overloaded systems.”

Landrum hopes the grants will start going out in the month of May.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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