KILLEEN, Texas — The City of Killeen will soon offer grants for new and existing small, local businesses thanks to funding from the American Rescue Act.
City leaders received $29 million but are using $1 million of the grand total to help boost it's own economy, especially in the downtown and North Killeen areas.
There are two separate programs Killeen is offering with the $1 million available, the North Killeen Downtown Start-up Program and the City of Killeen Small Business Relief Program.
The North Killeen Downtown Start-up Program is aimed to help those wanting to start a business or expand a business. The city is focused on this area primarily for this program because the economic development is low and they have a long-term goal to turn that around.
"It's so underutilized and so I'm hoping that through this program more people are willing to invest in our downtown, with the city as partners so that we can really grow that area," said Killeen's Assistant City Manager Danielle Singh.
There is no limit on the amount that can be requested in the North Killeen Downtown Start-up Program. You can get more information here.
The other program, City of Killeen Small Business Relief Program, is intended to help those who are dealing with ongoing financial hardships from the pandemic. Applicants can request up to $10,000 in this program. You can get more information here.
"We've heard a lot from our small businesses, whether it be decreased revenues as a result of the pandemic or additional expenses that they've incurred," Singh added.
Josie McKinney is originally from Alaska. She chose Killeen to open up shop, but 'Let's Eat Texas' was only open full service before the pandemic took it's toll.
"Most businesses like mine, and a lot of retail, just couldn't make it," she explained. "The overhead was too steep. They had mortgages. They had rent. They had loans."
McKinney gave the city recommendations for this program based off what businesses are struggling with. She said the funds would help her reopen her dining room and hire staff.
"To be able to start thinking about going back to that without going under trying to do it would be amazing," McKinney said.
McKinney told 6 News she's thrilled that the city is also trying to revitalize downtown and wants people to see all the potential the area has to offer. She says the help the city ready to provide could change the whole downtown area.
"Here we are now kind of ready to hit that reset button and I'm really excited to see the city jumping back on and starting events downtown again, and starting to use some of these funds to help the small businesses that have hung in there this long, or people that want to come in and help move forward with the downtown," she said.
Singh says it's vital for the city to support small businesses as it helps the city all around.
"Our small businesses are what make us strong as a community so it's really important we support them because in the end they are the ones that give us input," Singh added. "They are the ones that are supporting our other community members and they make us really sustainable as a community, so we always want to make sure that we're focusing on those small businesses."
Non-profits, publicly traded companies, and franchises are not eligible for these specific programs at this time.
Those interested can begin applying for the funds Tuesday, Feb. 1.
Applications will remain open until all funds are allocated.