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  • Thomas Sherrill, The News Reporter

Chamber launches small business recovery grant program. Here’s how to apply

The Columbus County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism has announced a grant program that will award grants of between $500 and $2,500 to selected local small businesses based on their economic loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program was created in the last few days, with the Columbus County Commissioners approving allocating $150,000 of CARES Act funds to the chamber on Monday.

“Through the years, our local small businesses have been there for us,” said Jennifer Holcomb, president of the chamber, in a Friday release. “I am so thankful to the county commissioners for recognizing the impact that our small businesses have in our community and the economic devastation many of them have experienced through this pandemic. Our small businesses are a part of what makes our community unique and special. This program is one way that we, the county and the chamber, are attempting to return the favor and help them weather this storm.”

Ricky Bullard, chair of the county commission, stated he is “honored to be a part of a county commissioner board that is willing to help small businesses, whose hardships are often not known by the public. I would also like to thank Jennifer Holcomb for her leadership and vision in bringing this initiative to our attention. It takes working together to make our county grow and prosper.”

The parameters of the program were determined Wednesday by a committee of eight local leaders, including County Commissioner Charles McDowell and the county’s finance officer Bobbie Faircloth.

To be eligible to apply, businesses must be located within Columbus County, employ 25 or fewer people, and “have experienced significant economic hardship due to COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns,” according to the criteria.

Applications can be downloaded online at and

The application period lasts 10 days, going until 5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 21.

“The turnaround on submitting an application is extremely quick because, by law, CARES Act funds must be distributed by December 30,” Holcomb explained.

The quick turnaround is nothing new to the chamber, which set up a Hurricane Florence grant program in September 2018 in 72 hours after the storm. That program resulted in 80 grants worth $500 apiece distributed to businesses affected by the storm.

Those with questions should email or call the chamber at 910-642-3171.

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