Fairfax County creates $25m grant program for small businesses, nonprofits

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create the $25 million Fairfax Relief Initiative to Support Employers (Fairfax RISE) grant program to assist small businesses and nonprofits affected by the economic downturn created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, the first of its kind in the county, will be funded using federal CARES Act funds provided to the county government.

“I am very excited about this program – the first of its kind in Fairfax County. Our hope is that these grants will help small businesses and nonprofits emerge from these difficult times, retain employees, and be prepared to grow in the future,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay. “We want to support the many small businesses and nonprofits that are crucial to the Fairfax County community and economy.”

Click here to fill out a county form to be notified when the grant application is available in June.

Fairfax RISE will offer grants to qualified businesses or nonprofits that will not have to be repaid. It also specifically establishes a minimum allocation of 30 percent of the program’s total dollars — or $7.5 million — toward awards for minority-, veteran-, and woman- owned businesses.

Not only have these kinds of businesses historically faced difficulty obtaining financing, but they also make a major contribution to the county’s economy. Minority-owned companies with employees account for 32 percent of businesses in Fairfax County, and collectively, all minority, women and veteran-owned businesses employ 80,000 people in the county with total annual revenues of $14.4 billion.

The grant application process is expected to begin in early June 2020. To be eligible, applicants must be established and have one or more location(s) in Fairfax County, including the principal place of business. This includes businesses and nonprofit organizations located in the towns of Herndon, Vienna and Clifton.

Awardees must have less than 50 total employees across all locations, have been in operation over one year; and, with the exception of nonprofits, have a valid Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL).

The amount of Fairfax RISE awards will be based upon the number of full-time equivalent employees:

  • 1 to 10 employees: $10,000
  • 11 to 25 employees: $15,000
  • 26 to 49 employees: $20,000

The grant can be used for:

  • Employee compensation (including wages and benefits)
  • Working capital
  • Equipment
  • Inventory
  • Rent
  • Other business critical operating expenses

Funding must be used for an eligible expense to mitigate business interruptions for the grant awardee business. No grant funds can be used to pay debts to close the business or start a new business. The county hopes to address gaps that may exist among complementary programs.

“These are unprecedented times, economically, and I am so pleased to see the  Board of Supervisors continue to step up with unprecedented programs to help the Fairfax County small business community, especially minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses that are a critical element of the local economy, get through the COVID-related slowdown,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “This grant program is an important component in the arsenal of resources that have been marshaled at the local, state and federal levels to help companies survive and prepare for the future.”

The $25 million Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Grant Program is in addition to two other recently announced Fairfax County small business and non-profit programs to address the COVID-19 economic crisis. This includes the $2.5 million Small Business COVID Recovery Microloan Fund and the $25 million Safety-Net Non-Profit Grant Program.

The Department of Economic Initiatives will oversee and monitor the Fairfax RISE grant program.  For more information visit the Fairfax County website or contact the Department of Economic Initiatives at Economicinitiatives@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-324-5171.

NOVA stays in Phase Zero until May 29

Following a joint request by Northern Virginia governments, the state’s public health restrictions will remain in effect in the region until Friday, May 29. Fairfax County, along with other localities, asked Gov. Ralph Northam to maintain the public health measures due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the region.

The governor’s order means that businesses closed since March 24 must remain closed in the Northern Virginia region. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out service while gyms, movie theaters and hair salons must stay closed. Other businesses, such as grocery stores and banks, may continue operating under the same rules since late March.

Residents should continue to stay at home, and employees should telework when possible. Social gatherings of more than 10 people continue to be banned. The order means Northern Virginia will remain in Phase Zero of the governor’s Forward Virginia plan, while other parts of the state will move into Phase One beginning tomorrow, May 15.

The executive order also applies to the counties of Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg and Vienna.

May 13, 2020