More than 180 Tempe-based small businesses last week split $1.2 million in grants from the city to help sustain them during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Tempe Small-Business Grant Program.
The hospitality industry, among the hardest hit during the pandemic, received 47 percent of the grant money, the highest percentage awarded to a sector. Health care and social assistance came next, receiving 13 percent.
Twenty-six percent of the awards went to minority-owned businesses and 31 percent to female-owned businesses (some recipients are both female and minority).
The average grant amount was $6,880. Awards were based on $1,300 per full-time employee to a maximum of $10,000, whichever was less. The grants provide business owners with money to help meet expenses so they can retain or hire staff.
Stormy Dodge and her business partner — and mother-in-law — Rox Dodge, who co-own funky rockabilly clothing shop Rocket-a-Go Go at Mill and Southern avenues, received a grant. Not only is the family business female-owned, but Rox Dodge is Hispanic and Native American.
“It was such a relief when we found out we got the grant,” Stormy Dodge said. “This means job security for our employees and will allow us to consider expanding our business into the space adjacent to ours. That could mean hiring additional people.
“The support from Tempe has been incredible. The city has been great, but also, people have been rallying around the idea of shopping local and supporting neighborhood businesses. That has been so important to our business these last few months.”
The Tempe Small Business Grant Program is among several designed to help Tempe’s neighborhood businesses. The city offers free safety supplies to businesses with fewer than 100 employees, has enacted a free extension-of-premises permit program that allows them to set up outdoor seating on sidewalks or nearby parking spaces, and allows additional signage and banners without a permit.