By Carol Vaughn —
Onancock wants to give away $350,000 to the town’s small businesses.
The town has 122 businesses, according to Jenny Gehman, Onancock Main Street program manager.
Onancock Main Street, a volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization that works to develop and sustain the historic downtown, is partnering with the town to administer $450,000 of small business recovery assistance grant funds.
So far, $100,000 has been distributed.
“We have $350,000 remaining and would love to encourage all qualifying Onancock businesses to…apply; this includes home businesses,” Gehman said.
The deadline to apply is Nov. 1.
Town Manager Matt Spuck encouraged businesses to apply “and let them know we make it easy for anyone who rents or pays a mortgage to receive” funds.
Extra expenses incurred to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic also may qualify for funding.
Each business can receive up to $15,000. The money is a grant, not a loan — it does not have to be paid back.
Gary Cochran, owner of the Charlotte Hotel, is among those who received a grant through the program.
“It was extremely rewarding. I got the grant awarded very quickly and it was not onerous at all,” he said of the application process.
“They want to give the money away — that’s a nice thing,” Cochran said.
The past year has been a struggle, “as it has for all businesses, I think,” he said, adding, “…Were it not for grants such as the one we got here and some of the other assistance we got — government assistance with PPP money — and just the general largesse of our customer base, we would not still be in business. We would have been out of business a long time ago.”
The grant “contributed greatly to our ability to stay in business — and keep people working,” Cochran said.
Onancock is known for its restaurants, as well as other small businesses that bring people to town.
“The Town of Onancock honors and values every one of the businesses and non-profit organizations that choose to call Onancock its home. This last year has shaken many of us to our very core and Town leadership continues to strive to support our businesses to survive the pandemic and thrive when normalcy returns,” a letter from the town to businesses said.
A link on the town website, https://www.onancock.com/community/page/grants, gives details about the Small Business Recovery Assistance Grant, which Onancock applied for and received from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
A link to the application packet is on the same page and includes contact information for members of a team whose members can help businesses apply.
The town office telephone number is 757-787-3363.
A project management team, including Spuck, Gehman, Onancock office manager Lisa Fiege, Onancock Main Street board member Carol Tunstall, and community representative Zorylu Diaz-Bonilla, stands ready to assist businesses in applying for the grant — including Diaz-Bonilla being able to provide Spanish-language information.
“The five of us are available and willing to meet with people to review the application process and answer any questions they might have,” Gehman said.
Cochran thanked those administering the program.
“I think they’ve done a wonderful job….They have been extremely helpful to me and I think they would be, and are, helpful to anybody who reaches out to them,” he said, adding, “They will walk you through the process. … It’s not like you have to do it on your own.”
“We just want to let people know that the small businesses are an integral part of our local economy and community and that we really do hope to disburse the total amount that we’ve been given, so we really want to encourage everybody to apply,” Gehman said.