Earlier this summer, the City of Fort Worth and United Way of Tarrant County launched the Preserve the Fort small business grant program as a way to distribute CARES Act funding to small businesses across the city who had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first round of the program was extremely successful, providing $6.2 million to 842 businesses distributed across every district in Fort Worth. The city’s minority-owned businesses and businesses located in the city’s targeted neighborhoods received a combined $4.1 million. Of the companies who applied, 95% were businesses with 25 employees or fewer.
However, economic fallout from the pandemic has continued. As a result, the city is gearing up to launch a second round of Preserve the Fort business grants with the almost $9 million left in its business-related CARES Act allocation.
Applications are expected to open in early September, although the exact date has not been finalized. More information about the second round of funding is being posted on the city’s Preserve the Fort webpage as it becomes available.
There are several key differences between the first round of Preserve the Fort grants and this round, both in the types of businesses targeted for assistance by the city and in the documentation that applicants must submit to be considered for a grant.
Funding criteria has expanded to include nonprofits businesses (including local performance art venues) and slightly larger businesses with up to 500 employees, in addition to smaller for-profit businesses and self-employed individuals/independent contractors.
Bars and music venues that were forced to close as of June 26 are eligible for a grant up to three times their lost average monthly revenue before the COVID-19 disaster declaration of March 13. This award will be capped at $100,000.
Business owners will be expected to submit up to seven documents – including a 2019 Federal Tax Return, their Profit & Loss (P&L) statement for 2019, their Profit & Loss Statement for 2020 with data broken down by month, and a Proof of Employment Q1 2020 941 – as part of their application. These documents not only help ensure that the City of Fort Worth is distributing these taxpayer-funded CARES Act dollars appropriately and responsibly, they also keep the city accountable to the federal government for all distributed funds.
A complete list of eligibility information and required documents, for both businesses and nonprofits, is currently available on the Preserve the Fort webpage.
“It’s critical that we continue to support our residents and businesses throughout the pandemic,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “By supporting our small businesses, including bars and performing art nonprofits, we can all work to ensure that Fort Worth recovers faster and stronger.”
“While we had many successes with the first round of Preserve the Fort, there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Robert Sturns, the city’s economic development director. “In addition to our small business owners, several of the industries for which Fort Worth is known – our bars and restaurants, our arts scene, our music venues, and others – are all still struggling. This second round of funding will hopefully help offset some of the damage from the past few months.”
“United Way of Tarrant County is pleased to partner again with the City of Fort Worth on the Preserve the Fort small business grant program,” said Leah King, president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County. “The initial round of funding provided a much-needed lifeline to more than 800 small businesses, and yet we continue to see economic devastation, especially among small business owners, as a result of COVID-19. The distribution of the next round of funds will support even more locally owned companies in Fort Worth and help them avoid layoffs or keep from going out of business.”
Document assistance and application help.
One of the major challenges identified during the first round of Preserve the Fort funding was how many businesses struggled to produce some of the legal documents that were required for the application. The COVID-19 pandemic has been the first time that many businesses have had to apply for financial assistance, and it can be very overwhelming.
By working with volunteers and leveraging its partnerships, the City of Fort Worth is doing more during this second round of Preserve the Fort to provide business owners with assistance preparing their documentation, and guidance about the application process.
Spearheaded by Fort Worth Now, a team of volunteers will be on standby to help meet business owners’ needs. Business owners will be able to select an appointment time that’s convenient for them, and will receive a 30-minute phone call from the volunteer at the appointed time to discuss whatever they need help with – whether it’s explaining documentation requirements, providing direction on the application itself, or assisting with the creation of profit & loss statements.
A complete schedule of appointment times will be posted on the Preserve the Fort webpage once it becomes available.
Also, as with the previous round of funding, any printable Preserve the Fort support materials – like lists of Frequently Asked Questions, or PowerPoint slides that walk businesses through the application process step-by-step – will be available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Also, as with the previous round of funding, any printable Preserve the Fort support materials – like lists of Frequently Asked Questions, or PowerPoint slides that walk businesses through the application process step-by-step – will be available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Businesses who have already received a Preserve the Fort grant earlier this summer are still eligible to receive another one during this second round of funding. However, the amount that they received from the first round will be subtracted from their final amount. Ex. A bar that received $5,000 from a previous Preserve the Fort grant earlier this summer might be eligible for $30,000 for this second round of funding. They would receive $25,000 during the second round, because their earlier grant would make up the remaining difference.
Businesses that received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan are still eligible for this grant.
Credit scores and existing debt will not be taken into account before the funds are awarded.
Businesses and nonprofits who receive Preserve the Fort grants will be expected to keep track of how their grant money is spent, and may be called upon to produce these documents in the event of a financial audit.
Business owners are encouraged to keep an eye on FortWorthTexas.gov/preserve-the-fort in coming days, or follow the city’s Economic Development Facebook page, to learn when applications will open.
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