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City Of Elkhart Aims To Create Program To Help Small Businesses Recover From Pandemic

Logo of the City of Elkhart

The City of Elkhart is looking to establish a grant program to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ashley Elsasser, the city’s assistant director for economic development, said local businesses have struggled to compete with large delivery services and ecommerce companies during the pandemic. 


She said the Small Business Innovation and Adaptation Program would help level the playing field.


“This program is designed to help our small businesses to get a leg up above those guys or match those guys,” Elsasser said.


She said businesses would be able to use grant funds to invest in new technology, perform building maintenance, or to pay employee wages and other fixed expenses.


Elsasser said the city is currently applying for state grants to fund the program and should know by April whether its application has been approved.


The city will hold an informational meeting about the program on Monday, Feb. 22.


(You can read the full release from the city below.)

The City of Elkhart’s Economic Development Department and in partnership with the Aurora Capital Development Corporation is seeking to establish a Small Business Innovation and Adaptation Program to assist struggling businesses located within the city of Elkhart, with preferential discernment for businesses in the Elkhart’s Urban Enterprise Zone. These organizations already work together by offering a Capital Loan Fund program.


They are uniquely positioned to directly reach the hardest-hit businesses in the city, and this important district. The Small Business Innovation and Adaptation Program (SBIAP) is designed to meet the operational needs of local small businesses while adapting to consumer demands.

The Covid-19 Phase 3 Relief grant is offered through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and derived from the state’s annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Eligible applicants include non-entitlement and entitlement local units of government and can apply for up to $250,000.  This application is seeking $250,000 from the COVID-19 Response Program to provide 100% of grants for up to $20,000 to assist small businesses with working capital to keep the business operating. The funds can be used, but not limited by, the following: Payables including rent/mortgage and utilities; Meeting payroll for existing or new employees; Operating expenses, including for supplies, point of sales, e-commerce, delivery service, licensing/permitting, etc.; Leases on existing or new equipment; or Maintenance of existing equipment and architectural features.

This grant assistance will help keep these small businesses operational, fully staffed, and ready to serve local consumers in today’s market. This is a critical step to respond to the pandemic and enhance the economic vitality of the City’s local economy. Further, it will improve these businesses’ economic competitiveness with other corporate or franchised businesses that have support from corporate teams to implement new technology.

The grant assistance received from the OCRA COVID-19 Response Program will not be used to financially support long-term capital improvements. This grant will help local small businesses to establish firm financial foundations to begin making the capital improvements necessary to grow our local economy. As a result, Elkhart’s local economy will continue to attract strong locally owned businesses and support continued growth and improvement to the city.

A virtual public meeting will be held on Monday, ­­­February 22nd from 6pm-8pm utilizing WebEx. You can participate in the meeting via WebEx using this link: or, on Facebook by tuning into the City of Elkhart’s live stream.

Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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