PIVOT grant program targets Fairfax County businesses, nonprofits hit hardest by COVID-19

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week created a new grant program to support businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Called “PIVOT,” the program will provide grants to local businesses in the hotel, food service, retail and services, and arts and culture industries.

PIVOT will use $25 million provided through the federal American Rescue Plan Act to provide targeted assistance to the hardest-hit sectors of the Fairfax County economy. The goal of the program is to help those businesses continue their recovery by providing needed capital for ongoing operations and to sustain business sectors. The grant portal will be open from June 23 through July 9.

“Fairfax County is committed to helping businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic. Through the PIVOT grant we will help those businesses who saw the greatest financial impact regain their momentum so they will be able to thrive in the reopening marketplace,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay. “It also directs recovery towards sectors that employ disproportionately higher numbers of low income and minority workers, making it all more important that we target recovery efforts to these communities who have been hardest hit.”

Pivot is the latest program that Fairfax County has developed since March 2020 to support various members of the business community, the non-profit community, and its workforce. The programs include the COVID-19 Recovery Microloan Fund; the RISE Grant Program; the Social Safety Net Nonprofit Sustainability Grant Program, Emergency Rental Assistance Program; and the administration of vaccines.

In early 2021, Fairfax County and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority commissioned an Economic Recovery Framework study. It noted that the county lost an estimated 48,200 jobs (through December 2020) and that employment losses were heavily concentrated in food service, hospitality and retail sectors. The study provided a “road map” that highlighted opportunities to create a just and resilient recovery through specific steps and programming. A small business grant program was one of the recommendations. Using this data, PIVOT will target businesses in the retail, food service, hospitality/lodging and arts sectors.

“With the PIVOT program, Fairfax County is taking another unprecedented step to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations most affected by COVID-19, and a step envisioned by the recovery framework,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “The FCEDA applauds this initiative aimed at the hardest-hit sectors of the Fairfax County economy so that they truly can pivot, recover and grow once again.”

Research shows customer-facing businesses – such as retailers, hotels, and restaurants – are the most vulnerable to closures and losses in revenues because of the pandemic. In the Washington D.C. area, 45 percent of small businesses have closed either temporarily or permanently, and for those that remain open, small business revenue is down nearly 55 percent. Restaurants and retailers are particularly at risk. More than half of closures across the nation in these categories at the end of August were permanent.

The accommodation, food services, retail and other services, and arts and entertainment sectors accounted for about 50 percent of total job losses in Fairfax County in 2020. According to an Americans for the Arts COVID-19 impact survey, arts organizations and artists in Fairfax had canceled 98 percent of their events and 43 percent reported that an inability to make payroll is a major financial obstacle.

Businesses in the lodging, food service, retail and services, and arts industries must be located in Fairfax County, including the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna and have a have a commercial storefront (no online only or home-based businesses will be eligible for awards). Businesses must be open or temporarily closed, planning to reopen by August 31, 2021 and have a valid Business and Professional License (BPOL). Grant award amounts, eligibility criteria and other requirements will be available on the Fairfax County website.

Two webinars will be offered on the PIVOT program. The webinars will be recorded for those who cannot join the event live and copies will be posted on the PIVOT web page.

June 15 at 1 p.m.  (in English)
Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89159301360

June 17 at 2 p.m. (in Spanish)
Link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83255834092

The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) is the grant administrator of the program and is experienced in supporting small businesses and non-profits across many economic sectors. The organization is experienced in administering large-scale grant programs and providing technical assistance and capital financing to businesses and non-profits.

June 10, 2021