The North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation’s “Small Business & Continuity Fund” offers grants up to $5,000 to businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Corridor CEO Chad Schreck says many businesses weren’t able to take advantage of state and federal grants. This effort is modeled after those in Carroll and Storm Lake.
“Carroll did do something very similar,” Schreck says. “I’ve had an opportunity to talk through some of the things they saw with that program. It’s helping us to develop this out. By way of comparison, the city there had also given $100,000 to the program and they had over 100 applications. I think they only had it open for just over a week, so it went really quickly.”
Schreck says the priority is being given to companies in the Mason City/Clear Lake area with long track records in the community. “That’s one of the questions that’ll be part of the application, ‘How long have you been in operation within the city or the county?’ We want to make sure that we are prioritizing those that have shown a long track record here,” Schreck says. “It doesn’t mean that people with a shorter one are ineligible by any means, we just want to make sure we’re honoring that long-term commitment here.”
Schreck says they know many local businesses have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. “We’ve also been doing outreach to businesses through phone calls and things of that nature, and that just verified the need,” he says. “Our surveys that we’ve been putting out show 65% of them responded they’d need some type of financial assistance. That was across the range, whether it was small or large businesses. Obviously, we’re directing this toward small businesses.”
Earlier this month, the Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors approved $100,000 to be earmarked for businesses in rural areas of the county. The Mason City city council last night approved $300,000 that would be distributed to Mason City businesses, while the Clear Lake city council on Monday approved $100,000 that will go to businesses in that community.
Private donations to the fund are also being accepted, as a Clear Lake bank announced at Monday’s meeting it’s putting an additional $15,000 into the fund.
(By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)