UPDATED: Local First Arizona Raises $1 Million in Grants for Small Businesses

Posted By on May 15, 2020

UPDATED JUNE 5: Local First Arizona has announced an additional $425,000 in grants statewide, provided with help of BHP, Alliance Bank of Arizona and South 32. The total distributed has now surpassed $1.3 million.

Local First Arizona raised over $1 million through the Small Business Relief Fund in its first month, providing immediate aid to 400 small businesses.

Local First Arizona predicted federal help would be slow to trickle in and “unbankable” businesses would be left in the dust in the process. In an effort to better position Arizona’s local economy on a path to recovery, Local First Arizona focused on deploying funds to Arizona’s smallest businesses: those with 0-3 employees that generate less than $250,000 in annual revenue.

“Small businesses often only have about two weeks of capital reserves, and asking them to wait any longer for relief is unrealistic,” said Local First Arizona Founder Kimber Lanning. “While some have pivoted to online sales/curbside or inching into reopening, many have already closed, and getting back to pre-pandemic profits won’t be happening anytime soon. I’m in awe of our business community and local leaders who chose to invest in Arizona’s smallest businesses. I think there is a silver lining to all of this. We have learned these small businesses keep the Arizona economy running.”

The Local First Arizona Small Business Relief Fund received initial support from the Salt River Project, with the Phoenix IDA, Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, APS, BHP,  twenty-seven companies from Greater Phoenix Leadership, and hundreds of individual donors jumping on shortly thereafter.

From food entrepreneurs in Navajo Nation to towing companies in west Phoenix to bed and breakfasts in Southeastern Arizona and everything in between, grants ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 have allowed business owners in a variety of industries to pay off pending bills and plan for the days ahead. One of those businesses is the Simpson Hotel in Duncan, Arizona.

“I did a top-to-bottom renovation of the 100-year-old building, and then set about making it into a sort of incubator for community projects as well as a rural stopover for travelers from around the world,” said owner Deborah Mendelsohn. “Then came coronavirus and, like most hospitality businesses, we were crushed. Unlike others, we had no cushion, no savings, and not very good credit. This gift, seemingly coming out of nowhere, lifted me out of despair and set me firmly on a new level of creative thinking about what lies ahead for The Simpson Hotel and for Duncan”

With over 2,800 applications submitted, Local First Arizona has closed the portal to apply but continues to provide real-time updates and resources to businesses. The organization is actively fundraising to be able to provide relief to even more Arizona small businesses.


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