Morristown awarded just over $50,000 to a total of 21 businesses as they continue to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, the Morristown Selectboard approved plans to award $2,500 grants to the businesses in town through the town’s community development fund.
“This couldn’t come at a better time for our businesses,” said Tricia Follert, Morristown’s community development coordinator. The 21 grants amount to $52,500; the initial plan when the grant program was launched called for a total of $50,000 to be awarded via 20 grants, but Follert said the three-person committee that reviewed applications for the grants felt there were 21 businesses that deserved the funding. So, on Monday she asked the selectboard, which oversees the money in the development fund, to hand out a bit more.
The individual checks for the businesses were being mailed on Tuesday, Follert said.
The money is meant to help Morristown businesses implement improved safety measures, like barriers, to help keep employees and customers safe during the pandemic, particularly as all business moves inside during the Vermont winter.
“With the way COVID has come back around, businesses are worried. We are worried,” Follert said.
Six other businesses applied for the funding but were denied. Four of those businesses — Peck’s Flower Shop, Peg’s Pick Up, Dewey’s Construction and Edward Loewenton — are not currently registered with the Vermont Secretary of State, Follert said.
“You have to be registered, that was one of our conditions,” she said.
She said another of the businesses, Soulmate Brewing Company, doesn’t currently appear to be operating, which voided its application. And the last, 10 Railroad Street, wasn’t open for almost the entirety of the pandemic for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.
“Originally, we thought we would grant the funding,” to 10 Railroad Street, Follert said. But, ultimately the boards that oversee the development fund decided it “wasn’t really fair to give them funding,” since they hadn’t been open during the majority of the pandemic, she said.
10 Railroad Street closed for unplanned, extensive repairs and a complete overhaul of the building in October 2019, before the pandemic hit, but it reopened in September of this year and has been in business since.
The grant programs only other requirement was being in business prior to January 2019.
“We wanted to do it for established businesses already in our community,” Follert said last month.
A second round of the grants has been discussed, but Follert said those plans are on hold.
“At this point we’re not planning another round, we’re not sure where we are going to be in a month or two,” Follert said. “We need to get a feel from the community at that point.”