IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WROC) — Across the country small businesses continue to struggle with financial hardship. Hit hard by the impact of COVID-19, data shows that less than half have been able to re-open.
In Irondequoit a local chocolate shop is among those lucky few, but the owners say they couldn’t have done it without a grant program offered by the town.
Nancy Stiebitz and her husband own Encore Chocolates. They’ve been in business for more than 30 years in Irondequoit.
“The timing was just incredible, it was just devastating,” said Stiebitz.
What she’s describing is the pandemic’s economic impact that happened right before their busiest time.
“We shut down before Easter, which is our biggest holiday for in-store foot traffic,” said Stiebitz.
They had to lay off 14 workers. Curbside pick-up and phone orders is what kept them afloat.
Then Encore Chocolates got much needed help from the Town of Irondequoit. Irondequoit is handing out $145,000 in grants. It will go towards their first round of the town’s Revitalizing Irondequoit’s Small Business Economy or RISE.
In total, Forty mom-and-pop shops will get between $2,000 and $5,000 grants. It came just in time as the shop reopened just three days ago.
“As our economy continues to reopen, it is more important than ever that local governments find innovative ways to support our small businesses and the jobs they create,” said Irondequoit Supervisor Dave Seeley. This funding aims to help our many locally-owned businesses as they continue to re-open their doors, and I look forward to providing continued support to our business community through the RISE program.”
“The town has been so supportive of us. Not just with this money, but with a lot of programs. They added our two hundred free masks to businesses, and this program doesn’t have to be used at any particular cost for businesses,” said Stiebitz. “We had some costs just for reopening to meet all the recommendations for masks, face shields and social distancing things.”
Nancy remains optimistic and hopes the state continues on the right track to remain open.
“I’m hoping that new york’s numbers will be stable enough so we can stay open and that customers will be comfortable enough coming back in the store,” said Stiebitz.
Funding for these grants were made available by the Federal CARES Act of 2020.
Supervisor Seeley renewed his call to Irondequoit businesses to take advantage of this funding opportunity. To date, 43% of the $340,000 authorized for the program has been awarded.