Many local businesses, like others across the state and nation, were severely financially impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently appointed Crockett Economic Recovery Taskforce established a Small Business Relief Fund and presented $500 checks to 40 small businesses in the city that experienced losses caused by the pandemic in an effort to assist them in recovering. Above, James Gentry, center, a member of the taskforce presented checks to two of the business owners, Regina Tillis, of Chuckwagon Grill, and W.L. Tillis, of Tillis Tire & Detail. (Courtesy Photo)
By Alton Porter
Forty Crockett small businesses that have been economically impacted as a result of the new coronavirus pandemic have received a bit of financial assistance thanks to efforts of the recently established Crockett Economic Recovery Taskforce.
The businesses were presented $500 each from a Small Business Relief Fund that was established by representatives of the city of Crockett, the Crockett Economic & Industrial Development Corporation (CEIDC) and the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce with oversight from the taskforce to assist small businesses in offsetting some of the losses they incurred as a result of the pandemic, according to the three heads of the program.
Those leaders are Executive Director James Gentry, of the CEIDC, which managed the fund; Crockett City Administrator John Angerstein; and Executive Director Liza Clark, of the chamber.
The taskforce members, including Gentry, Angerstein and Clark, were recently appointed by Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher, and the funds for the presentations to the small businesses were made possible by a $20,000 grant to be provided by the federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.
Gentry presented the $500 checks to representatives of the small businesses from CEIDC funds, and the CEIDC will be reimbursed by the federal government through representatives of Texas state government.
“We were able to allot $20,000 that the (CEIDC) board approved for me to utilize as part of a joint effort to reach out to the small businesses here with 10 employees or less to help them through this time,” Gentry said.
“Hopefully, when we turn our receipts in to the state, they’ll reimburse me for it. We said we would commit $20,000 to the program. In the meantime, we didn’t want to drag it out, so we chose to move forward with the program.
In a statement about the program, Angerstein stated, “This funding was provided by the CARES Act and passed on down to the states. The state then provided some of this funding to the city through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
“At the beginning of this pandemic, the mayor organized an economic relief task force. This task force has been used to identify various needs of the city and of our local businesses. There was a lot of restrictions placed on cities and how this funding can be used, but a portion of it was able to be released in small business grants to some of our smallest businesses that potentially did not receive SBA (Small Business Administration) grants or other federal help.
“The mayor and I are just excited that we were able to pass some of this funding on to our businesses that needed it the most.”
In a separate statement, Clark stated, “providing this type of relief to all small businesses in Crockett was a passion project of mine as I watched chamber businesses suffer and some close since March. I have been working towards a relief package with the city since early May.
“Small businesses are the heartbeat of our community and COVID-19 has deeply impacted our economic health. Businesses are struggling to regain footing lost due to closures and/or reduced occupancy since March, and the Crockett Economic Recovery Task Force moved into action to help ease financial burdens.”
Clark added, “With the release of a portion of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, we were able to offer aid to those businesses that may not have applied for, or been denied, the EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loans) or SBA (Small Business Administration) loans and I can only hope that we were able to reach as many of those affected as possible. I think it was eye-opening to see the different professions that have suffered during Texas closures, and I only wish it could have been more dollars in their pockets.
“I have to thank CEIDC for allowing the grant checks to be delivered through their office and getting them out to our applicants. We do hope that more funds will become available so we can continue offering support as the business community gets back on their feet.”
As far as the distribution of the $500 checks was concerned, Gentry said, “We actually reviewed the project here (four) weeks ago and started distributing checks after the 15th of August. We were able to get everybody their check before the end of August. If the federal government and state see fit to give us more funding, we may even do more.
“I feel very good about it (the taskforce and the Small Business Relief Fund). We’re trying to accommodate or facilitate not only bringing businesses here, but we realize it’s important to retain the businesses that we have. And a lot of these are small businesses.”
Gentry said the businessowners and other representatives who received the assistance “were quite appreciative of it.
“We wanted to give as much as we could to as many as we could. That’s why we ended up doing the $500 this time. We want to help our community in whatever ways we can. And from an economic development standpoint, we realize that it’s all about the prosperity of our community as whole. And whatever ways we can do to enhance that prosperity, we’re going to be a party to that.”