At a Lynchburg City Council meeting last week, economic development officials said the city awarded 336 grants to small businesses as part of a recovery program. The grants ranged between $2,500 to $20,000 and helped pay for winterization projects and outdoor heaters so restaurants and other stores could continue to operate outside.
“Our small business community, specifically our locally owned small business community, was greatly affected [by the pandemic],” Alisha Meador, Lynchburg’s Economic Development Manager, said. “We heard time and time again that this funding specifically helped them maintain staff, keep their doors open and keep doing their jobs in the community.”
The federal aid awarded to local governments does not include the millions of dollars in relief that was allocated by the state to school divisions or the millions of dollars provided directly to businesses as part of the Paycheck Protection Program, in which employers could take out potentially forgivable loans to help keep employees on their payrolls.
It also does not include the aid that is expected to be sent to state and local governments as part of the American Rescue Plan, a nearly $2 trillion aid package signed into law Thursday by President Joe Biden.
After the Hill City, Bedford County was awarded the second-largest amount of aid among localities in the region: $13.7 million. More than $3 million of the county’s aid was sent to Bedford County Public Schools, including $1.6 million for upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.