The town is accepting applications for second-round small business assistance grants through Feb. 1.
More than $127,000 has been granted to 34 businesses in town since the inception of the Economic Development Commission-proposed program four months ago, and another round of funding is on the horizon.
“This second round is intended for those small businesses that for various reasons did not apply during the first round,” Economic Development Commission Chair Mike Boyle said.
Bethel’s Small Business Assistance Program provides limited, one-time direct financial assistance in the form of a grant to eligible small businesses in town that employ 25 or fewer employees and have been negatively affected by the pandemic.
The program goal is to provide financial support to up to 70 small businesses in town, according to Janice Chrzescijanek, economic development director.
Funding for the program comes from a $350,000 allocation of the town’s federal American Rescue Plan Act stimulus money.
She said local and state surveys have shown nearly all small businesses have been negatively affected by the pandemic and are continuing to experience declining revenue, increased expenses and decreased profitability.
One Bethel business that closed following the coronavirus outbreak in 2020 was Bethel Cinema on Greenwood Avenue. Financial problems led to its shutdown early on in the pandemic. The theater is under new ownership and is expected to reopen under a new name.
As the pandemic enters a second year, economic development officials in Bethel continue to monitor its impact on local businesses. “As businesses deal with some of the same challenges from last year, a new set of challenges lie ahead — especially with the continued uncertainty of the pandemic,” Chrzescijanek said.
The financial resources provided through the program not only enables businesses to address some of those challenges, but helps strengthen them, she said. The application for the second round of Small Business Assistance Program grants is available at https://bit.ly/BethelBusinessGrants2022.
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