Amherst County giving small businesses $1,000 to pay rent, utility bills

Amherst EDA creates COVID-19 small business grant

AMHERST, Va. – The bar stools and outside patio at Loose Shoe Brewing Company in Amherst County have been empty for seven weeks since Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order limited social gatherings.

“It has been really slow days, busy days and everything in between. It’s definitely not been normal though,” said owner Derin Foor.

Not normal is only serving beer to go.

“ABC's really worked with us as far as being able to take beer out into the parking lot,” Foor said.

Foor said even with customers not sitting inside his utility bills are piling up.

"We still have rent to pay. Our water bill hasn’t stopped,” Foor said.

Lori Saunders with Amherst County’s Economic Development Authority wants to help.

“These small businesses are the backbone of our community,” said Saunders the assistant director of the EDA.

She says they’ve got $25,000 in the pot to help Foor and other businesses. The money is coming from the EDA’s Small Business Assistant Fund typically used to help startup businesses with water and sewer hookup fees. Now that most of those projects are on hold, Saunders said, “this was a natural fit.”

The organization will give $1,000 to eligible business owners who apply for the COVID-19 small business grant.

“We really wanna hit those that have been the most effected and also those that maybe didn’t qualify for the PPP (loan) or got in too late and the money had run out,” Saunders said.

Foor says this is money will go a long way.

He’s already applied and waiting for approval.

“I think it's wise for all of them to apply. It's great that the county can kick in,” Foor said.

County leaders tell us four businesses have applied and the money is available until it's gone.

If own a business in Amherst County and believe you qualify go to the EDA website at https://amherstvabusiness.com/.