POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - The city of Pocatello has awarded $245,487 in small business grants to help over 30 local businesses and organizations.
The Small Business Grants Program awarded up to $10,000 for qualified expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, 34 businesses and organizations received a grant. 14 received the full $10,000 and the smallest grant totaled $500.
“Small businesses are a vital part of Pocatello,” said Mayor Brian Blad. “The City Council felt that one of the best things to do with some of our funding was to assist small businesses that contribute so much to our community.”
The Yellowstone Restaurant was one of the recipients receiving the $10,000 maximum award. Co-owner Jennifer Erchul says its been a tough transition for her restaurant since the pandemic began.
'We were here six days a week learning how to do takeout from a fine dining establishment," Erchul said. "So, it was a real learning curve for us."
Erchul says the award will help go toward equipment needed to help prevent any potential spread of COVID-19.
"We knew that it would help kind of cover the cost of the government-mandated COVID equipment that we needed," Erchul said. "So, masks for employees, more sanitizer, takeout containers, to-go boxes. It was pretty vital that we did get this assistance, and we're so grateful that the city had the opportunity to help us with that."
Local frozen yogurt shop Kiwi Loco received $8,000 from the City of Pocatello. Manager Bret Burch says the pandemic has also been a major struggle for their business.
"It's easy to imagine as a self-serve frozen yogurt shop, the pandemic has hit a little bit differently for us," Burch said. "As the nature of our businesses is self-serve, a lot of touching. So, it's hit us pretty hard the last year."
Burch says the city's assistance will be vital to help them get back on their feet.
"Any sort of assistance is awesome," Burch said. "It’s going to really help us get back in a better place. Catch up on things that need to be caught up on and really just help us be in a lot better place starting this year and moving forward."
For Erchul, she says despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, she believes the Pocatello community has come out to support the local businesses they know and love.
"Everybody down here is working really well together, and I think our community is really stepping up and showing their love for local, which is really cool," Erchul said.
The city set aside $250,000 to help local business from the city’s allocation from Governor Brad Little’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee.