A week after Delaware City Council created a grant program to assist businesses affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and a May 19 flood, the first grant has been awarded.
The quick turnaround was possible, in part, because the city began taking grant applications June 1, in anticipation of council approving the program June 8. Legislation authorizing the program was approved as an emergency measure, taking effect immediately.
As a result, Olivina Taproom, 44 S. Sandusky St., is the first beneficiary of the city's COVID-19 and Spring Flood Small Business Recovery Grant Program.
The city first considered ending acceptance of grant applications June 18, but now has extended the deadline to July 31, according to a city press release.
The program was supplied with $100,000 from the city's reserve fund, which is not used to fund the city government's daily operations.
City Manager Tom Homan on June 8 told council the reserve fund is available for economic development, which includes assistance to local businesses.
Also June 8, Assistant City Manager Kyle Kridler told council the city had received 18 applications from small businesses, including restaurants, breweries and retail and fitness businesses.
The grants are capped at $2,500, or up to $5,000 in special circumstances, according to the legislation authorizing the grants.
Olivina Taproom sells premium olive oils and balsamic vinegar.
As a "nonessential" retailer, Olivina had to shut its doors due to the pandemic, limiting experience-based cooking classes for the community, the press release said.
When the shop was preparing to reopen in mid-May, the storefront suffered significant damage when flooding overflowed Delaware Run across the city. Olivina owners Chris and Catherine Schobert filed the first application under the grant program, city leaders said.
"We can't thank the local community and the city of Delaware enough for helping us navigate through these difficult times," Chris Schobert said.
"It has been a crazy year and, with the flood, we were very unsure of our future. Our damage was extensive, and a lot of recent work we put into the business was destroyed.
"These funds are a bright spot to an otherwise gloomy past few months, and just a wonderful example of (how) our city, our community can rally together."
Applications are continuing to be processed, with several more grants to be presented this week, the press release said.
Program guidelines and an application can be found at delawaremeansbusiness.com.
Also June 8, City Council created a loan program, designed to assist small businesses with costs of reopening following the statewide shutdown ordered because of the pandemic.
"We believe it will be at least two to three weeks before we hit the streets with loan applications," city economic development director Sean Hughes said June 9.