Editor’s note: The following is part of Startland News’ ongoing coverage of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Kansas City’s entrepreneur community, as well as how innovation is helping to drive a new normal in the ecosystem. Click here to follow related stories as they develop.
The impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on startups, small businesses and nonprofits won’t hit without area cities and organizations on both sides of the state line rallying in hopes of stimulating local economies.
Among the first out of the gate: GO Topeka announced Monday plans to offer up to $2 million dollars in aid to small businesses hit by the pandemic.
“On Saturday morning, I received a call from a local business owner. He had an idea to pledge private-sector support to augment our public efforts to help small businesses and displaced workers,” said Matt Pivarnik, CEO of GO Topeka — the economic growth engine, helping drive resources to the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Kansas capital city. “The outcome of this philanthropic pursuit was more than I could imagine.”
The resulting Helping Others Support Topeka (HOST) Relief Program is intended to help inject needed capital back into local companies to get them through a difficult time, added Scott Hunsicker, owner and president of Kansas Financial Resources.
“We hope this program also provides some aid to workers displaced by COVID-19,” he said. “In a lot of other communities, there are people calling up local agencies, like the Chamber of Commerce, asking, ‘What can you do for me?’ In Topeka, we’re asking, ‘How can we help?’ This is what sets Topeka apart from so many other communities – its altruistic spirit.”
Click here to support the HOST Relief Program or for a list of frequently asked questions.
More than $300,000 in private donations have been made since Saturday, GO Topeka said.
The organization has publicly pledged to match donations up to $1 million, pending approval by the Joint Economic Development Council (JEDO) on Wednesday.
“GO Topeka stands by its local businesses during this trying time,” says Molly Howey, president of GO Topeka. “We hope that this fund will serve dual purposes of injecting needed cash into our small business community, while at the same time providing economic support to dislocated workers impacted by COVID-19.”
KCMO: Small Business Emergency Relief Fund
In Kansas City, support for small businesses has been in question in recent months, after mayor Quinton Lucas proposed budget cuts that would eliminate funding for key entrepreneurial support programs — including KCSourceLink.
Click here to read more about the Kansas City entrepreneurial community’s fight for funding.
With a city budget set for approval Thursday, Lucas has since tweaked his stance on small business support, moving to create a $500,000 emergency relief fund for business owners — likely to be doled out in the form of small grants, he said in a release.
“My heart breaks for all of our small, local businesses and their employees who are suffering during this public health crisis,” Lucas said Monday. “I applaud the painful steps our small businesses have already taken to protect our community — now, it’s our turn to step up and protect them.”
Such a fund would serve as a “lifeline” to affected businesses, significantly impacted by COVID-19, the mayor added.
Information on an application process was not immediately available.
Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund
Philanthropic organizations across the metro have also stepped up to offer relief, forming the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, aiming to raise $10 million to support critical needs in the greater Kansas City area, including housing, food, access to healthcare, and other critical needs as determined by the fund.
Grants will be given to approved public organizations and those with 501(c)(3) standing.
Click here to apply for funding.
The Hall Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation have agreed to lead the effort, issuing a $5 million challenge grant, the groups said in a release.
“As we work to meet the challenge grant, generous givers throughout the Kansas City region will play a vital role in addressing unprecedented needs in our community,” explained Debbie Wilkerson, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.
“The Community Foundation is prepared to lead the philanthropic response alongside United Way of Greater Kansas City and asks donors of all levels to give what they can to help our community’s most vulnerable populations affected by COVID-19,” she continued,
Founding Funders include: Black & Veatch, Bukaty Companies, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, George K. Baum Family Foundation, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, H & R Block Foundation, Hall Family Foundation, Health Forward Foundation, JE Dunn Construction, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, Kansas City Southern, Mallouk Family Foundation, Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, Mazuma Credit Union, Menorah Heritage Foundation, Mike and Linda Lyon, Patterson Family Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation, Richard and Annette Bloch Family Foundation, Sherman Family Foundation, Sosland Foundation of Kansas City, Stanley H. Durwood Foundation, Sunderland Foundation, UMB Bank, United Way of Greater Kansas City, and the William T. Kemper Foundation.
Click here to make an individual donation to the Greater Kansas City Community Fund.
The organization said it hopes to deploy funds to those who need them as quickly as possible.
Starland News will continue to monitor emergency relief conversations across its coverage area.