MARTINSVILLE BULLETIN | The Harvest Foundation gives $1 million to help small businesses in Martinsville-Henry County
The Harvest Foundation on Wednesday announced a donation of $1 million in emergency relief funds to help small businesses in Martinsville and Henry County weather the pandemic.
The foundation is partnering with the Virginia 30 Day Fund to launch the “Pay It Forward MHC” program, officials said in a Zoom call.
Local for-profit businesses that have between three and 30 employees are eligible to receive funds up to $3,000 to help them make payroll, pay bills, and save local jobs.
“Small businesses are the heart and soul of our community,” Harvest Program Officer India Brown said. “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve really been honing in on small businesses and trying to decide what we as a foundation can do. We want to make sure they still have the resources to keep their employees working.”
The Harvest Foundation cannot make direct grants to for-profit entities, so they are working with the Virginia 30 Day Fund specifically to help businesses in Martinsville and Henry County. Harvest made the $1 million gift in honor of health care workers and first responders who are on the front lines of the pandemic, officials said.
The Virginia 30 Day Fund was created by Charlottesville technology entrepreneur Pete Snyder and his wife, Burson, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. It is meant to provide immediate relief while many small businesses wait for federal relief like the Paycheck Protection Program to hit their bank accounts. Speaking on the Zoom call Wednesday, Snyder said more than 350 Virginia businesses have been helped so far.
To Martinsville and Henry County businesses, Snyder said, “Help is on its way, and it’s coming right now. We’ve got your back.
“We’re going to be able to help a whole lot of people, thanks to the generosity of The Harvest Foundation. We can’t wait to see what kind of direct impact we’re going to have in the weeks ahead.”
Unlike the federal funding applications, Brown said, this one is meant to be short and provide almost immediate access to funding.
“It’s a really simple application. The business owners have to submit a short video,” Brown said. “There’s a decision made in three days, and then the money is immediately dispersed. It’s very straightforward.”
Funds do not have to be repaid, but organizers hope businesses who can afford to will “pay it forward” later by returning the amount to the Virginia 30 Day Fund, so that it can be reallocated to other businesses in need.
Harvest Board Chair David Stone, an entrepreneur himself, said he knows running a business is already challenging without a pandemic going on.
“We knew our small businesses in Martinsville and Henry County might need an extra boost to make it through this process of coming back,” Stone said. “Let’s face it, the challenging times are not over.
“We’re anxious to see Pete start writing those checks and get them out here in the city and county,” he said.
In a news release, Harvest Foundation President Allyson Rothrock added, “We are thrilled by the partnership with Virginia 30 Day Fund, which makes it possible for Harvest to fulfill its mission of aiding small business growth while helping keep people at work at a time when many businesses are struggling to stay afloat.”
To be eligible for the Pay It Forward MHC fund, powered by The Harvest Foundation and the Virginia 30-Day Fund, businesses must be based in Martinsville or Henry County; be owned and operated by Virginia residents; have been operating for at least one year; and provide a valid business license.