Stronger Together: Viroqua partnership creates relief fund for businesses impacted by COVID-19

VIROQUA, Wis. (WKBT)– A relief fund initiative for businesses impacted by COVID-19 is being created through a Viroqua-area partnership. Nelson Agri-Center, Sleepy Hollow and the Viroqua Chamber Main Street all donated money for the effort.

The Stronger Together Relief Grant is meant to keep businesses open and retain jobs, according to a press release.

“Every single business that calls Viroqua home is important! We are all part of a chemistry that makes Viroqua so unique and successful. It is vital that we come together to help these folks get back on their feet,” said Dan Kanis, owner of Nelson Agri-Center, in a statement.

Money that would have supported Pop-Up Shops 2020, Beer Walk ticket sales and individual donations are also funding the grant.

“Just as we all have taken the necessary steps to protect the health of ourselves, our loved ones, and the population as a whole, we must also make extraordinary efforts to protect the health of our small business community. The investment we make now, ensures the future of our vibrant community for everyone,” said Jess Reed, president of the Viroqua Chamber Main Street, in a statement.

“Now, more than ever, is the time to rally behind the small local businesses that make Viroqua such a wonderful place to live and work. By supporting them to whatever extent we can, we’re really supporting the future of our charming town,” said Michelle Felton, co-owner and vice president of Sleepy Hollow, in a statement.

Up to $5,000 grants will be available to start, though that may change in the future based on the availability of funds. Applications will be accepted starting April 18.

The applicant must be the majority owner (own at least 51%) of the business. They also need to provide financial losses due to the pandemic. The owner must also provide evidence that they can retain business for at least six months as a result of the grant.

Eligible expenses may include basic operating capital for staff salaries, leasing space, insurance, and/or utilities. Requests for inventory, supplies, furniture, software, equipment, other expenses may also be considered.

In addition to the application, the following documents are required:
-Most recent IRS 1040 Form
-Business operating agreement (for multiple owners)
-Previous four weeks of payroll
-Liability insurance (or ability to obtain)
-Business operating/loss statements (optional)

Applications will be available online or can be emailed. For an email copy or any questions, send a message to nrschmidt@viroqua-wisconsin.com.

Applications will be reviewed by Viroqua Chamber Main Street Economic Development Committee. The actual award amount will be based on a scoring matrix and funding availability.

Businesses, banks and individual donors may continue to support the effort. Donations can be made on the Viroqua Chamber Main Street’s Support Small website, which also includes the opportunity to purchase gift cards for local businesses.