MENDOCINO Co., 5/21/20 — The majority of Mendocino County businesses are considered “micro-businesses” of five employees or less, and since such business owners are often operating on small margins, many have suffered severe financial impacts due to thee COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders over the last two months. To assist small business owners who need financial help to re-open or pivot their business with the new public health concerns, the Community Foundation of Mendocino County has established a new “Business Innovation and Resilience Fund” to provide $5,000 grants to small for-profit micro-businesses facing closure due to the pandemic.
These new business grants will be administered by West Business Development Center, and will be drawn from a fund set up by the Community Foundation, which hopes to reach a total goal of $300,000 towards the business grants. The fund is currently supported through contributions from the J-Olivanti Fund and the Mayfield Economic Development Fund at the Community Foundation, and gifts from our Ted and Wilma Westman Fund, the Jim and Babbie Mayfield Fund, the Kevin and Bree Klotter Charitable Trust, Pacific Gas & Electric, and an anonymous donor providing $300,000.
The county and West Center are also conducting an economic injury survey to try and track the impacts that the pandemic has had on local business — if you are a local business owner, more details and the survey can be found here.
Here’s the fund announcement from Megan Barber Allende, CEO of the Community Foundation of Mendocino County:
Sheltering-in-place makes us realize how much we rely on the small businesses in our communities. If small businesses are important to you, please consider joining us to help them survive this COVID-19 pandemic. Micro-businesses (those with fewer than 5 full-time employees) are especially vulnerable, with many operating on monthly or weekly margins. In addition, when Mendocino County businesses shut down, paychecks for thousands of employees are jeopardized with serious long-term impacts on families, communities, and our local economy. This is why the Community Foundation has created the Business Innovation and Resiliency Fund: to help these businesses adapt and innovate in the face of the pandemic crisis and beyond.
Through our new Business Innovation and Resiliency Fund we will partner with West Business Development Center (WBDC), who will make small grants (up to $5,000 each) to licensed, for-profit micro-businesses based in Mendocino County in danger of closing due to loss of income related to the COVID-19 crisis. By partnering with WBDC, and collaborating with the three Chambers of Commerce, these micro-businesses will then work with advisors and in groups to develop tools to help them to look beyond business as usual, and instead pivot to find new ways of doing business in this new marketplace.
Jim Mayfield, Community Foundation board member and owner of Rainbow Ag, believes, “This local, private effort will send a message that these risk-takers have community support. This support may make the difference in their ability to survive the shutdown. Entrepreneurs are creative and sometimes just a little help will encourage and nurture their good idea. This is truly a neighbor helping neighbor effort.”
Mayfield understands the impact this pandemic can have on our local economy, and has been inspired to become a donor to the new fund. “Private philanthropy and giving back to the community can be strategic by encouraging economic development,” Mayfield tells me. “Our local jobs, income, and tax base are dependent on local small business. Without them we have no community.
Many small businesses in Mendocino County will not survive the Covid-19 shutdown but others will benefit from a bit of help. These funds may give them the ability to re-think their business model, or buy that special piece of equipment. Most importantly, it will send a strong message that locals can do good locally.”
We are fortunate to have an anonymous starting gift of $100,000 that we are looking to match. We are thrilled to report that lead matching gifts have been received from the J-Olivanti Fund and the Mayfield Economic Development Fund at the Community Foundation. In addition, gifts from our Ted and Wilma Westman Fund, the Jim and Babbie Mayfield Fund, the Kevin and Bree Klotter Charitable Trust, as well as from Pacific Gas & Electric have started off our fundraising efforts toward our goal of $300,000.
Mendocino County is a community thriving on small businesses, and when COVID-19 hit and we began to shelter-in-place, these mom-and-pop institutions were the first hit. We know the value of supporting our local economy, and we hope that by partnering with WBDC and our generous donors we can help these critical businesses weather the storm. We hope you will join us in our efforts.
–To learn more, or make a donation, visit Business Innovation and Resiliency Fund