Continuity Fund invests nearly $190k in small businesses

HUDSON – Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) have announced they have awarded a total of 92 grants to local businesses through the Columbia County Business Continuity Fund. This joint effort with the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and the Hudson Business Coalition was launched March 30 to raise new resources in support of small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

The businesses receiving grants are spread out across the county and met key grantmaking criteria, including being located in city, town or village centers, open to the public and reliant on foot traffic, and having fewer than 10 full-time employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. An independent, volunteer committee of local business leaders reviewed and rated each application based on these criteria. The committee had representation from throughout the county and from women- and minority-run businesses.

Award amounts varied based on severity of need and total resources available, with nine of out 10 grants sized at $1,500 or $2,500. These one-time, rapid response grants were designed to help cover costs such as retaining employees, rent and other fixed operational costs. A list of recipients will be released following their acceptance of the grants.

Generous individuals, foundations and businesses made this fund possible. Major gifts came from BTCF’s Community Fund and CEDC, BTCF’s Fund for Columbia County, the Hudson River Bank and Trust Foundation, Martha McMaster and Sheldon Evans, Berkshire Bank, Henry J. Kimelman Family Foundation, Stephen Mack and Brian Schaefer, Susan Danziger and Albert Wenger/The Spark of Hudson, Linda Gatter/Max Dannis Fund and the Arthur and Eileen Newman Family Foundation. In addition, more than 40 individuals made online gifts totaling over $17,000.

“Columbia County is fortunate to have many restaurants, coffee shops, retailers and other independently owned small businesses. These small shops and their passionate owners and employees are essential to our quality of life and the economic vibrancy that makes our county such a wonderful place to live, work and visit,” F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the CEDC, said in the press release.

“People are the power behind small businesses. Philanthropy can step in to help them at this critical time by filling gaps while other resources come online,” said Peter Taylor, president of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, also in the release. “We are grateful to the donors who have responded quickly and acted with great heart. We are inspired by them and by the businesses showing such determination in this crisis.”

“Small local businesses are the heart and soul of our community, and it has been a priority of my office from the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak to find ways to support our shops, eateries and other local small businesses as they navigate these unprecedented times,” said state Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106th), who helped initiate and launch the fund. “In partnership with BTCF and CEDC, we have been able to raise almost $200,000 so far to directly help these businesses through the Columbia County Business Continuity Fund. I thank those who stepped up to support this effort, and we are continuing to raise these funds.”

Matt Murell, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said, “The Board of Supervisors is working around the clock to address our public health and preserve our businesses throughout the county. The Columbia County Business Continuity Fund represents our community stepping up and providing additional resources to help our small businesses during this challenging time.”

Jeffrey Hunt, president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, said, “The ability of our many businesses to continue to operate after this pandemic is critical to restoring Columbia County’s economic vitality and to restore our great quality of life. Rapidly getting money to these businesses in need goes a long way to achieving this goal.”

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