If you're a small business in Texarkana that has been struggling because of the COVID-19 and you're a member of the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce then help could be on the way. The Texarkana Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation, along with several other local foundations and businesses have raised $75,000 for a program to assist small businesses in the community.

According to a press release, the COVID-19 Business Support Program will assist Chamber member businesses with less than 30 full time employees with a grant equaling no more than $1,000. The funding can be used for personal protection equipment, utility bills, such as gas, water/sewer, electricity, internet, and phone services or other significant business operating needs such as rent.

The program addresses safe workplace issues and the financial challenges brought on by the pandemic. Ritter Communications CEO Alan Morse said, “We want to help small businesses get back on their feet and we believe our $25,000 contribution to the Chamber’s relief program will allow the program to support more businesses as they reopen and find their way in this new business environment. We commend the Chamber’s leadership for making this program available.” Morse continued, “Ritter Communications invests in the communities we serve. We’re proud and excited about entering the Texarkana market to serve businesses with our 100% fiber internet, voice, cloud, networking and television services, so supporting the Texarkana commercial community through the Chamber of Commerce’s Business Relief Program makes a lot of sense to us.”

Funding sources include the Texarkana Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ritter Communications, and other local foundations. This program would be impossible without the support of these organizations. To donate to the fund, please contact Natalie Haywood at nhaywood@texarkana.org.

“We know these are unprecedented times our country is going through. The Chamber board knows small business is the backbone of America, and our great Texarkana community. We want to help these partners of our community in any way possible,” said Joey Martin, owner of Express Employment Professionals and Chamber board chairman.

Priority will be given to businesses which were closed, laid off employees, limited operations due to COVID-19 mitigation or can show other direct, negative impacts threatening the ability of the business to continue operations long-term. To qualify for the support program, the business must have a Texarkana TX/AR region address and employ 30 full-time equivalent employees or fewer. All funding requests will be reviewed by a fund oversight committee consisting of representatives of business members of the Texarkana Region. The Committee will make a best faith effort to meet an applicant’s request, but all distributions will be contingent upon the degree of financial need, the timeliness of application submission and the availability of funds.

Unless otherwise obligated, the funding can be used for PPE, utility bills, such as gas, water/sewer, electricity, internet, and phone services or other significant business operating needs such as rent. The application can be found at www.texarkana.org/covid19-grant. Applications will be taken through June 15, 2020. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funds are depleted. The maximum request for funding is limited to $1,000 for a 45-day period. After 45 days an applicant may submit another request provided funding is available.

The business will provide the necessary documentation in order for the Foundation to pay expenses directly to the vendor on behalf of the funding recipient.

“The Texarkana USA COVID-19 Support Program fits well within our mission at the Chamber, ‘To lead and advocate for sustainable economic growth and prosperity for our region.’ We are excited to have the opportunity to help our community,” explained Tammy Waters, manager of communications and government relations at Domtar.

The Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce is a private trade association focusing on community and economic development for the greater Texarkana region. The Chamber has been a community partner for over 100 years in Bowie and Miller counties. Information on the Chamber and the program is available at 819 North State Line Avenue, Texarkana, Texas or 903-792-7191 or www.texarkana.org.

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