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Freedom First Credit Union

Small Business Relief Grant

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Supporting Local Microbusinesses

ln response to the economic hardships experienced by businesses resulting from the COVlD-19 pandemic, the City of Roanoke in partnership with Freedom First is launching a small business relief grant program utilizing Community Development Block Grant - Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) federal funding.

lt is a grant program created in response to microbusinesses that are at-risk of closing or laying off employees due to COVID-19, and its goal is to keep businesses open and retain or create jobs.


  • Business must be located in the City of Roanoke
  • At-home business must have 2-year history in home
  • Owner/applicant is a qualified Low or Moderate Income household1
  • Owner is 18 years or older
  • Owner/Applicant is not currently in bankruptcy
  • Owner must be current on all city taxes
  • Has not already received prior CARES Act funding
  • Business will have active liability insurance with in 30 days
  • Owner/applicant is only eligible for one grant per rolling 12 months
  • CDBG-CV funds may not be used to duplicate other federal or state benefits
  • Provides local or regional services, including those in the program's areas of emphasis:
    • restaurants/food service, professional services (i.e. legal, design, real estate),
    • cultural & educational services,
    • arts,
    • recreation,
    • retail,
    • health practitioners, and
    • personal care (i.e. beauty/barbershop, nail salon, dry cleaner and more).

Microenterprise Assistance

  • Five or fewer full-time employees including themselves
  • Business must be owned at least 51% by an individual with a household income at or below 80% or the Area Median Income1
  • Must be able to demonstrate the impact that COVID -19 has had on their business
  • Must be able to demonstrate the business will remain in operation after receiving the grant
  • Must be able to commit to retaining, at a minimum, their current level of employees at the time of receiving the grant

Special Economic Development Activities

  • This means jobs made available to low/moderate income persons1 are created or retained
  • If a business applicant has laid off some or all employees, but reports they intend to hire once this crisis ends - this can be job retention

Ineligible Applicants

Nonprofit organizations are not eligible, and will not be considered for funding. Other ineligible businesses include payday loan businesses, liquor and tobacco stores, pawn shops, firearm or other weapons dealers, adult entertainment (any business that requires the customer to be at least 18 years of age or older), passive real estate investments, or home-based businesses operating without appropriate zoning and/or permits.

Grant Amount

  • Minimum: $5,000
  • Maximum: $25,000 (Max $10,000 for retooling and technology activities related to COVID)

Eligible Use of Funds

The City of Roanoke's Planning, Building & Development Department HUD Community Resources Division and Freedom First will review the final project scope of work submitted in the application.

Grants are restricted to certain eligible costs, especially those related to basic operating capital for leasing space, insurance and/or utilities, and staff salaries. Applicant will provide documentation as to how the funds were spent within a 60-day period. All request must demonstrate need to retain or create jobs.

  • Reasonable business costs
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Salaries
  • Inventory
  • Training for long-term sustainability
  • Business modeling for modified business planning
  • Cost to comply with COVID related CDC standards:
    • Space and technology upgrades to reopen and conduct business safely, including furniture, barriers, and technology such as, software, and touch -free credit card payment systems to accommodate social distancing.
    • Sanitization (cleaning service and/or supplies such as EPA approved disinfectants, gloves, and masks that follow CDC and Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 guidance
    • Job training , classes and/or technical assistance related to COVID training to protect employees and customers
    • Training for long-term sustainability planning

Ineligible Use of Funds

In addition to CDBG-ineligible costs outlined in 24 CFR 570, funds under this Program may not be used to:

  • Reimburse expenses incurred prior to Applicant approval of grant
  • Pay off non-business debt, such as personal credit cards for purchases not associated with the business
  • Purchase personal items such as buying a new family car or making repairs to a participant's home
  • Direct funding to political activities
  • Paying off taxes and fines
  • Acquisition of real estate
  • New Construction

Applicant Capacity

Grant applicants for the Relief Program are required to demonstrate management capacity and ability to successfully operate a business.

Job Retention/Creation

For the Relief Program, priority will be given to applicants that commit to retaining employees or creating jobs. Unless a business applicant's owner is a member of a low-/ moderate-income household1 and the business qualifies as a HUD-defined microenterprise, then retention or creation of at least one job held by a
low-/ moderate-income household1 is required to access funds in this program.

Job retention is defined as total full-time equivalent positions retained at 40 hours per week, or any combination of part-time positions combining for 40 hours per week, including owners.

Application Documents

Applications should be submitted by email in full to by 4 pm on June 1, 2022 or until funds are exhausted. Staff will follow up with applicants for required additional information and documents after application submission, including income self-certification forms for all employees.

Questions about the application or program may be directed to Janaia Bass or Cameron Wells at

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1 Assistance through the City of Roanoke requires the Business must be owned at least 51% by an individual with a household income at or below 80% or the Area Median Income for Roanoke City. Income guidelines are based on how the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calculates the Area Median Income (AMI) of the City. A household is composed of one or more people who occupy a housing unit. Not all households contain families. Under the U.S. Census Bureau definition, family households consist of two or more individuals who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption, although they also may include other unrelated people.

Persons in HH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Income Limit $42,950
$49,100 $55,250 $61,350 $66,300 $71,200 $76,100 $81,000