On May 19th, the City of Tuscaloosa approved Restart Tuscaloosa's proposal to contribute $1 million to the Small Business Relief Fund, a direct means of supporting local businesses in Tuscaloosa in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Until the city's contribution, the created by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and the Community Foundation of West Alabama was entirely comprised of donations and had granted more than $200,000 to 95 local businesses.

With fresh funds from the city, the Chamber has already awarded another $437,000 in grants to 83 local businesses, with the remaining half-million or so be distributed in the coming weeks. In its June 16th distribution alone, the SBRF granted area businesses $230,900, with the average award being $5,248.

The funds are being distributed to various types of businesses -- ranging from food service to retail to event planning, health & fitness, and even locksmiths.

“This may not help them survive this five months, six months from now. But it does provide another bridge as federal relief begins to subside," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said. "This provides a little more relief going into the summer.”

Chamber President Jim Page elaborated on the process of choosing what businesses to allocate funds to, citing a number of factors including their number of employees, annual gross revenue and length of time in business.

"We have had a number of testimonials that demonstrate how effective this effort has been," Page said. "It has 'bought them time' or provided a 'bridge' to get them across turbulent financial waters."

The Fund is still accepting contributions of any amount, with 100% of the proceeds going to businesses in need. People looking to donate can do so either online or via mail. For more information: visit https://tuscaloosachamber.com/small-business-financial-assistance/.

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