The Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship has been awarded $24,000 to provide mini grants of up to $2,000 to small businesses in its network. The microenterprise assistance grant was made possible through $100,000 in statewide funding by Citizens Bank. These funds were distributed throughout the state in a competitive grant process administered by the NH Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA).
Twelve local businesses, all active in Hannah Grimes’s programs, were selected through an application process. Along with a $2,000 mini grant, each business will also receive assistance from the Hannah Grimes Center to best leverage the use of the funds. These grants will help local, small businesses meet pressing needs. These dollars will be used not only to pay existing bills, but in creative endeavors that will help these businesses navigate change and stimulate growth in the current turbulent economy. What’s more, Hannah Grimes is excited to work with CDFA to demonstrate that investing small amounts on the grass roots level can stimulate businesses individually as well as have a measurable collective impact on the local economy. Both organizations hope this program will serve as a successful pilot to encourage additional funding for small businesses in the region.
In a meeting held to discuss, share, and spark motivation for how to use these funds innovatively, the awarded businesses contributed a wide array of ideas, ranging from simply paying rent and taking an owner’s draw to purchasing the technology to move an entire art gallery to an online format and experience.
Vera Flora Farm, a small-scale, organic cut flower business in Gilsum, NH, is just entering its 9th season in operation. Owner, Sarah Barkhouse, receives about 55% of her income from weddings that have now been postponed to 2021. With this in mind, she plans to grow her CSA by about 50% to include 50 members. Most of her grant funds will be spent improving her home delivery service with the purchase of business decals for her van, gas money, and a system to hold her delicate vases and flowers in transit.
Albert Diemand of Elm City Compost works to divert food waste from local landfills by offering compost pickup from homes and businesses. Accommodating the shift away from commercial use (such as restaurants) to private clients, Diemand will be purchasing a new lift gate for his truck. “With more people eating at home,” he says, “food weights are becoming unmanageable by hand.” Additionally, some of the funds will support free composting trials for businesses who are preparing to make changes for reopening in “new normal” times.
DRUM LLC, a video production provider for small businesses and nonprofits, hopes to develop, expand, and roll out new services that will be relevant in a pandemic-changed world. Owners, Eddie Gomez and Rory Hurly recognize that important events will be increasingly virtually attended, and are looking into technology for live streaming and advertising for live streaming services. Additionally, with many businesses turning to online formats, DRUM LLC will be purchasing a new camera lens in order to offer high quality product photography to their clients who are increasingly moving products and services online.
Hannah Grime’s other micro grant recipients have found equally inventive ways to use their dollars. This includes a baker’s plan to hire a web developer to move her sales online, a potter’s plan to purchase a photo booth to better showcase her pottery on the web, an artist’s plan to cover rent for the individuals who inhabit her non-residential studio art spaces, and a massage therapist who plans to purchase educational materials and share her wealth of knowledge through online webinars and consultations. Additionally, bringing these 12 businesses together to discuss plans for their grants sparked several opportunities for new collaboration.
In the midst of unsettled times, and as we plunge into unchartered economic waters, a little money can go a long way for small businesses. CDFA and the Hannah Grimes Center are betting that smart investments made now can have long-lasting, positive impacts leading to resilient businesses and a thriving local economy.