CLINTON — The Clinton Chamber of Commerce is offering $200 grants to local small businesses that are struggling to pay their monthly bills.
Paul Orsini, executive director of the Chamber, said that the board decided to start fundraising for a grant program back in October, when they realized they were going to have to cancel all of their major events due to the COVID. He said that while $200 doesn’t seem like much, he knows from experience that it can mean a lot to a small business owner who is just starting out.
Through the support of some anonymous donors, a Halloween pop-up drive-in event that raised $500, and raffle ticket sales, the chamber has so far raised enough money to give grants to between 75 and 80 businesses. There is no cap on how many employees a business can have in order to be eligible for the grant.
Orsini said that he’s heard from many local businesses that they are seeing fewer people coming out to shop or eat this year, despite the traditionally strong holiday shopping season. He said that the rising COVID positivity rate and the complex rules for restaurants have made it difficult for these businesses.
“Almost daily you can see less traffic,” he said. “Unless you have a strong online presence, you’re going to feel it.”
The chamber is continuing to sell raffle tickets to raise more money for the grant program. The tickets will be entered into a 30-day drawing, with one prize drawn each day from January 16 through February 15. Prizes include gift cards to restaurants and small businesses and arts and crafts gifts.
Orsini said that seven businesses have applied for the grant since the application opened on Friday. Applications can be found at the Clinton Chamber of Commerce website.