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Bell County votes to help small businesses with new grant program

Posted at 6:57 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 19:59:19-04

BELL COUNTY, TX — Grabbing a cup of coffee or shopping at a local business has not been the same since March. and as some business owners try to stay afloat, the local government is trying to help.

Social Coffee Bar in Killeen opened its doors in December and is one of the many businesses affected by the coronavirus.

“It's really hard because we were a place that as soon as we opened, we were packed every day, like we had customers in and out all day every day,” Carmen Orta, the managing partner at Social said. “And to be here sometimes we don't have a customer for hours. It's like 'oh my god what is going on?'”

Many local owners struggle financially so Bell County is allocating up to $15,000 per eligible business as a part of the coronavirus relief funds program.

“We wanted to, at least in this initial round of grant applications that we might consider,” Judge David Blackburn of Bell County said. “To target those businesses that were actually asked to close and the ones most impacted with those early disaster declarations.”

Money Orta is excited about that.

“It’s like ‘wow! yeah!’ Let’s take it and do what we need to do with it,” Orta said. “And use it wisely.”

City officials said they are expecting the money to be exhausted as it’s released.

“I’m, from my chair, optimistic that we won’t have a second round because we’ll have plenty of applications this round,” Judge Blackburn said.

The funding gave Orta hope, and even some confidence as she opens her new business.

“It made sense to wait and see how we can continue the journey and, here we are,” Orta said smiling. “If God is good, we’ll open soon.”

Business owners can apply for the funds on September 1, 2020. They have to have them returned by September 10 in order to be considered.