How hundreds of small Dayton minority- and women-owned businesses are getting help

Two dozen small minority- and women-owned businesses in Dayton have been awarded grant funding to help them expand and grow, and officials hope hundreds of other businesses will be able to do the same with financial assistance from the city-funded, mini-grant program.

“This funding will help us get needed equipment,” said Albert Powell, CEO of CPM Enterprises LLC, which is a demolition and environmental abatement company in West Dayton that was awarded $10,000. “This money will help us hire additional help because we don’t have to take that money and put it in equipment.”

The city of Dayton allocated $1.5 million of its federal COVID relief funds to the Miami Valley Urban League for a micro-grant program called the Dayton Resiliency Fund.

The fund, which launched in February, has just awarded 23 micro-grants to minority- and women-owned businesses in Dayton.

The program awards grants between $1,000 to $10,000, and the first round of funding distributed more than $135,000.

Small businesses often lack access to capital to make investments that can help grow their operations and sales, said Nikol Miller, executive director of the Miami Valley Urban League.

Officials said they hope that about 550 small minority- women-led businesses will receive micro-grants through the program.

The Miami Valley Urban League received about 35 applications for funding in the first round, but some were rejected because the businesses were not located in the city of Dayton.

The Urban League received about 43 applications for second round of funding, and those awards are expected to be announced in June.

The organization will open applications for a third funding round next week.

Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. said the mini-grants will help “Black and brown” businesses that were hard hit by COVID pandemic recover.

The resiliency fund supports Dayton’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, said Utsey Shelton, a business advisor with the Miami Valley Urban League.

Grant recipients in the first round included businesses in health care, construction, child care, food services and professional services.

To qualify, businesses must be at least six-months old and they have to submit a letter explaining how their finances have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, Shelton said.

Grant recipients also receive technical assistance from the Urban League.

Roeneisha Wallace, owner of Rosie’s Vending Company, said the $1,000 grant she received provides “crucial support” as she expands and installs vending machines in Dayton Metro Library branch facilities.

“This funding definitely has helped me grow and expand my business,” she said, adding that the grant award meant she did not have to take out a loan.

Tracey Lawson, the owner of JA’s & Sweet-Umms, said the $2,500 grant she was awarded will help pay for a website and signage for her food truck.

“This will help us get on the road and pop up at different events and things,” she said.

A $5,000 grant was given to Taste-T-Love Baby Food, which recently moved into a production space in downtown Dayton, said owner Kourtney Terry.

The grant will help offset moving costs and help pay for needed supplies and resources, Terry said.

Paula Willis and her daughter, Alleah Cooks, own Now and Zen DIY Studio, which sells do-it-yourself plant terrariums at 121 E. Third St. in downtown.

Willis said its $10,000 grant will help the store upgrade its technology by implementing a new inventory management and barcode system.

“We’re also in the process of moving ahead with terrarium DIY kits that we’ll be selling across the country,” she said.

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