WESTFIELD-Five area small businesses, including two in the city, recently received Verizon Foundation grants that were distributed through the national nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
“Over 170,000 small businesses have applied to the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund through Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and of the businesses receiving grants, 62% are women-owned, 90% minority-owned, and 12% are veteran-owned,” said David Weissmann, public relations manager, east area, Verizon Consumer Group.
Weissmann added that the grantees are in cities and towns nationwide, with 94% operating in underserved communities that have “historically not had access” to flexible, affordable capital.
“Verizon’s support for small businesses through the program will total $7.5 million,” said Weissmann, adding there will be three rounds of grants given.
Western Massachusetts businesses receiving grant funds from the second application period include New Beginnings Transportation, LLC, and Kat Kattler Photography, both in Westfield; Easy Pick Convenience in Holyoke; Anna Maria Irvine, D.C., of Northampton, and Main Street Bar & Grille in Greenfield, according to Weissmann.
“This second round of recipients brings us to 435 small businesses nationwide receiving Verizon grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 as part of the company’s #PayItForwardLIVE initiative,” said Weissmann. “These grants are meant to help small businesses meet payroll, pay rent, and cover additional immediate operational needs.”
Verizon provided a grant to LISC that designed the selection process based on their expertise and due to legal requirements, Verizon did not have a role in the selection of grantees. Applicants were scored through a system developed by LISC to prioritize women/minority/veteran-owned businesses, underinvested neighborhoods, and geographic diversity. The top 3,000 applicants from that process were put into a lottery software which drew a pool of semi-finalists who were then further evaluated to identify the first round of grant recipients.
Weissmann noted that during the first application period, Springfield-based Tech Automotive had received grant funds.
“That brings the total grants being awarded locally to $52,500,” said Weissmann.
Katherine Miklasiewicz, owner of Kat Kattler Photography, said she applied for the grant since she had to close her business due to COVID-19.
“For the safety guidelines it was best that we all stayed home and that meant no income coming in for me,” said Miklasiewicz. “It was an honor to have received this grant and I will be using it to catch up on my business expenses.”
Denise Taylor of New Beginnings Transportation, LLC, was unavailable for comment at press time.
“Many small businesses are struggling through the pandemic,” said Weissmann. “These grants are a lifeline to assist.”
Separately from the small business grants, Verizon will also be providing free, one-year access to its BlueJeans Enterprise video conferencing service to each of the small business grant recipients of LISC’s Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund to help “keep the businesses productive,” according to Weissmann.
Weissmann added that to date, the total COVID-19 crisis commitment from Verizon and the Verizon Foundation stands at more than $55 million in contributions and donations to nonprofits around the globe.