New data shed light on pandemic relief in Roanoke

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 11:58 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - It’s hard to drive around Roanoke and find a business that hasn’t been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s nearly as hard to not pass a business that’s gotten funds from the city’s CARES Act grant program.

“In some cases it has saved the business; in others it has enabled them to hold on until who knows when,” said Rob Ledger, the director of Roanoke’s Economic Development Department.

Ledger’s department has overseen the distribution of $598,000 in grants so far. The money has gone to 134 businesses, split into three categories.

“If you have from one to three employees, you can get up to $1,250. Four to 20 employees can get up to $7,500, and over 20 can get up to $12,000,” said Ledger.

In total, 14 businesses have received that $12,000 maximum. That includes the LLCs that own the Hampton Inn & Suites and the Holiday Inn, alongside restaurants such as Martin’s and Evie’s Bistro and Bakery.

The list of grant recipients, which was provided by the city after a request by WDBJ7, shows among the largest sectors seeking help are restaurants, at 17% of applications, and retail stores, at 11%.

“Hospitality and restaurants, small retail, were hit the hardest, particularly if you’re only bricks and mortar," said Ledger.

Though the city has been distributing the funds, they’re being supplied by the federal government through the CARES Act. Unlike the PPP loans from earlier this year, no part of the grant has to be paid back.

Businesses have to meet certain qualifications for the grant. They must have been operational before COVID-19 hit, and be able to show an impact from the virus, among other things.

Money is still available to businesses that want it. A total of 70 have submitted applications and are awaiting approval.

“We should be creeping up on about a million dollars of funding that has, or will be soon in the hands of businesses in the city of Roanoke,” said Ledger.

He also noted the city has decided to allocate another $250,000 of CARES Act funds toward the program. Businesses can apply through the city’s website.

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