CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Small businesses continue to struggle amid the pandemic with minority-owned businesses hit especially hard.
To help ease the burden, on Monday the state launched the Minority and Small Business Relief Grant Program.
Alfreda Small is the owner of Small Counseling and Wellness, a private practice that specializes in therapy for teenagers and families.
For minority small business owners like Small, if approved, the money could be the difference between staying afloat or shutting down.
“With minorities, it’s definitely a challenge at times to open a business and get funding,” Small said.
A report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released in August shows 35% of minority-owned businesses that applied for a loan came up empty. That’s compared to 30% of non-minority owned businesses.
“I know just that fear, a lot of people don’t reach out to get that financial help,” Small said.
Small said she opened her private practice to be able to service clients her way. However, Small admits the pandemic has put a strain on the business. Instead of in-person therapy sessions, they’re held over the phone or online.
“It was difficult to maneuver because I had opened a place for people to come in then social distancing started,” Small said.
“Those mom and pop shops, those businesses with less than 10 employees that weren’t able to apply for federal dollars, this is a great opportunity for them,” Tim McCray with the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs said.
McCray said the agency is helping people apply for the grants. The grants range from $2,500 to $25,000.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook,” McCray said.
He said some minority businesses didn’t get a PPP loan because they simply didn’t know about it. The agency is working to change that this time around.
“That’s why we’re taking the initiative now to get the word out,” McCray said. “Here’s an opportunity not only in getting a loan, but a grant opportunity that you don’t have to pay back,” McCray said.
The deadline to apply for the grant is November 1. To apply, click here.