When the first wave of the pandemic struck, Lesley Snyder saw an 85 per cent drop in business at her popular Rosehaven Yarn shop in downtown Picton, making her fear for the future of the colourful store.
“I never knew from day to day what my sales were going to be, which I was always able to anticipate in years past. So, there was not only that uncertainty but then also the hard decisions between doing what I needed to do to make the store safe for everyone, but also still pay my rent and my hydro and the mortgage on our home and put food on the table,” said Snyder.
Support arrived just in time for Rosehaven Yarn, with $40,000 in funding from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), which was set up to support entrepreneurs and social enterprises and protect local jobs during COVID-19.
After many Picton Main Street businesses were hit by the latest lockdown, a fresh injection of $1 million into the local relief and recovery fund was announced on Tuesday, with an increase in the maximum support for enterprises from $40,000 to $60,000.
Snyder encouraged local entrepreneurs to consider accessing supports like RRRF as they manage through the winter and continue to adapt.
“We were able to get the funds we needed quickly, make changes to the business, and adjust to a new way of doing business during the pandemic,” said Snyder.
The fund is backed by the Government of Canada through FedDev Ontario and is open to non-profit organizations and rural enterprises that were not eligible for other relief measures, as well as those that received other supports but need more backing to weather the second wave.
“The economic impacts of this crisis have hit hardest on Main Street not Bay Street and that is why support for small businesses has to be a continued priority. Many non-profits that provide vital services have also seen revenues fall, and need support,” said Sandra Latchford, who serves on the board member of the local Community Futures organization, which is administering the fund along with partners.
The extra $1 million invested in RRRF is available to new applicants, and also to local businesses that are existing recipients but can now receive tops ups of $20,000 in funding, with up to 50% of the additional funds taking the form of grants, and the balance as a 0% interest loan with no fees or charges.
“We are here for entrepreneurs during these difficult times. RRRF is ready and open for new applications,” said Rob Clute, who is supporting the rollout of RRRF for Community Futures, which is a non-profit financial services organization that provides social finance to local enterprises.
Community Futures has already provided relief to existing clients by waiving all payments and interest across the board for six months to ease the burden on hard-hit Main Street enterprises.
“The next step is building back better and creating resilience for the future and more balance in our local economy,” said Latchford, who was born and raised on a dairy farm in the County and was Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick.
Meanwhile, adaptations are ongoing at Rosehaven Yarn, where they have doubled the size of their retail space to give their yarn-crazy customers more room, and Snyder has plans for outdoor socially-distanced no-contact knitting workshops when the warmer weather arrives.
A workshop on how to access the $1 million in new funding is being hosted by the County of Prince Edward on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 9am. Entrepreneurs can register by contacting: Grace Nyman, Community Services and Programs Coordinator at 613.476.2148 xt2502 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org