The Small Business Relief Fund created by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and the Community Foundation of West Alabama has disbursed another $60,000 to local businesses, bringing total awards to $200,000 benefiting 95 area entrepreneurs.

The Chamber made the announcement Friday afternoon, highlighting again the benefit of the donation-drive fund designed to aid small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat amid the social distancing and closings necessitated by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Recipients of the funds are chosen by a panel of West Alabama business leaders and can elect to remain anonymous but many have opted instead to announce their awards and publicly thank the Chamber.

“We are thankful for the Chamber and the Community Foundation for the opportunity to apply, and we were excited to receive funds under this program,” said Riley Voce, co-owner of Northport-based food truck Blenz Bowls. “It came at a perfect time for us and literally put us back on the road.”

Lynda Kees, a massage therapist based in Tuscaloosa who also received funds through the SBRF, echoed the sentiment.

“I am deeply grateful to these organizations for creating and administering this relief fund for local small businesses like myself,” she said.  “I would also like to express gratitude to everyone whose generous contributions have made this assistance possible.”

Bobby Bragg, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Chamber, said he was pleased at the level of help the SBRF was able to provide for West Alabama’s small businesses.

“There have been a variety of resources directed at small business, but we wanted to ensure our local businesses had funds available quickly,” Bragg said. “Using this funding to take care of immediate needs such as rent and utilities have made a big difference for some of our small businesses.”

Jim Page, President and CEO of the Chamber, said he was thrilled with the SBRF’s progress, but noted there is more work to be done.


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