A fund has been created to aid businesses and nonprofits in the region that may be facing economic challenges.

The “Resilience Fund,” created by six area funders, hopes to offer rapid-response grants to businesses and nonprofits facing economic challenges in Appalachian Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Valley counties of West Virginia.

The fund will offer access to grants ranging from $500 to $3,000.

Businesses also will be able to receive information about loans, capital investment and other grant sources. Grants can be used for business inventory, rent, and utilities, securing the employment of staff, or other costs that are preventing the sustainability of an organization’s operation.

Businesses, social enterprises, sole proprietors, and entrepreneurs based in the following Ohio and West Virginia counties, or doing business that substantially impacts these counties, are eligible to apply.

The eligible Ohio counties, aside from Athens, include Adams, Ashtabula, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington.

The eligible West Virginia counties include Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Mason, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood.

“Funds are available to be used for any effort that will aid in stabilizing your business; however, awarded funds are expected to be used for the purposes outlined in your application,” the Resilience Fund’s website states. “The fund’s goal is to help fill gaps in your enterprise that were created by the current economic challenges.”

Applicants will also have access to professional coaches, who can advise on other resources such as loans, additional grant funding and information on operating under the current regulations.

“Coaches are available to talk about specific issues you may be facing and can also connect you to other businesses for peer support,” the fund’s website states.

The six fund founders are Rural Action, Ohio University’s Voinovich School, the Athens County Foundation, Sugarbush Valley Impact Investments, the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.

“We are hoping to provide an agile response for businesses to help them safely re-open and recover from the impacts of the shutdown,” said Debbie Phillips, CEO of Rural Action. “Rural Action is happy to partner in this collaborative effort by coordinating the fund, and we are excited to help bring resources directly to businesses in the area. We are grateful to everyone who worked to put this fund together.”

A Grants Committee composed of stakeholders from the six organizations will meet weekly to assess applications and make award decisions.

“Our goal is rapid allocation to ensure greatest sustainability,” said Faith Knutsen, Director of Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Ohio University’s Voinovich School. “The Grants Committee reviews applications in the week following receipt, and a funding decision is made in the next ten business days. We hope to fund successful applicants within a month of submission.”

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