September 17, 2020
The Clipper Strong Fund Committee announces a new initiative designed to assist Portsmouth small businesses who “might otherwise fall through the cracks” as they struggle with the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new effort is a mini-grant program that will award grants of up to $500 to businesses in need of short-term relief to cover such expenses as utility bills, rent, PPE or other expenses.
To qualify to apply for a Clipper Strong Fund mini-grant, the applicant must be:
- An independent business with 10 or fewer employees (whether full- or part-time).
- A Portsmouth business in existence for at least 6 months prior to March 13, 2020 (the date of Governor Sununu’s COVID-19 Emergency Order).
- Able to define the intended use of the grant of up to a maximum of $500. Eligible uses include: COVID-19 safety modifications for employees or the public, inventory or new equipment required to reopen under the COVID-19 guidelines, rent, utilities, employee benefits or marketing materials (including printed or online media for public information). Successful applicants will be expected to prove the need with invoices or written estimates.
The three-page application is designed so that the applicants remain anonymous while their applications are reviewed. A representative of the Coastal Economic Development Corporation, the 501c3 nonprofit that helped the City create the Clipper Strong Fund to accept tax-deductible donations, will administer the application process, independent of the Committee. Each applicant identified on the application cover page will be assigned a number. Then the cover page will be separated so that the application details identified only by that number are reviewed by the Clipper Strong Fund Committee. Mini-grants will be awarded on the basis of need and announced by November 1, 2020.
The Committee will review the applications in the order in which they are received. If available funds are exhausted in the first round, a second round of mini-grants may be awarded based on any additional Clipper Strong Fund donations received by the end of the year.
“Funds are limited,” noted Clipper Strong Fund Committee co-chairs City Councilors Esther Kennedy and John Tabor. “We expect that the demand for funds will exceed the resources currently available. But we also hope this effort will encourage more people to donate to the Clipper Strong Fund in order to help their fellow businesses who are really struggling with the impact of the pandemic. As the Mayor said when he created the Fund, so many small businesses and the people who own them are what makes Portsmouth unique. If we lose them, we lose some of the character of our city.”
The Fund is still seeking donations at ClipperStrong.org. Donations in the form of a check may be mailed to the Clipper Strong Fund c/o Coastal Economic Development Corporation, 4 Merrill Industrial Drive, Suite 201, Hampton NH 03842. Clipper Strong has received donations large and small, including support from the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, Granite State Development Corporation, Newburyport Bank and Piscataqua Savings Bank as well as from residents.
The first initiative of the Clipper Strong Fund Committee was to create and distribute Clipper Strong Fund Care packages for small businesses. This second initiative is designed to provide small, direct grants to cover COVID-19-related needs. All small businesses who meet the mini-grant criteria are eligible, including those who received the Clipper Strong Fund Care Packages.