MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis is doing all it can to keep small businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past two weeks, the Memphis Economic Development Growth Engine, or EDGE, has awarded almost half a million dollars to local businesses.
It's called the NEED Grant, and hundreds of businesses have sent applications for assistance since the beginning of the pandemic.
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One store in the local community told FOX13 businesses are hurting and there's a greater need for help than ever before.
Robert Humphreys, the general manager of the Crosstown Curb Market in Midtown said since COVID they’ve seen more than a 25% drop in revenue.
“Before all the COVID-19 stuff started, we were a full hot bar. We’ve cut it to half because of the amount of people who are out eating,” Humphreys said.
It’s caused them to reduce payroll, operate their hot food bar at half-staff, and switch to on-delivery payments for food vendors. Humphreys said with confirmed cases continuing to rise in Shelby County, there’s a concern for more changes.
“It completely scares us,” he said. “The idea of going backwards is horrifying to all small businesses. If nothing else to keep small businesses going.”
They’re one of 88 small businesses that are now receiving assistance from the Memphis Economic Development Growth Engine. Memphis EDGE has awarded $491,000 to minority and women-owned businesses in the community.
“These are small neighborhoods serving businesses,” said Charles Vance with Memphis EDGE. “A lot of time these businesses are a vital part of the neighborhoods they serve. If something was to happen to them there would be a domino effect where it would affect the neighborhood adversely.”
Vance said the move is a way to keep the doors open for the local economy. He told FOX13 the EDGE Board has a million dollars to work with for grants to continue to help those impacted by COVID-19.
“Without some sort of intervention, we fear that COVID-19 could greatly damage the commercial activity in some of our inner-city neighborhoods and that would set the growth back years in some cases,” said Vance.
Memphis EDGE has a meeting scheduled this week to discuss more ways they can help other businesses in the near future. They said if COVID numbers continue to rise in Shelby County, there could be more large awards given out soon, or businesses could end up closing their doors for good.
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