Local First Arizona raises more than $1 million in grants for Arizona’s small businesses

Simpson Hotel in Duncan one recipient

Contributed Article

PHOENIX – In just one month, Local First Arizona was able to raise more than $1 million through the Small Business Relief Fund, providing immediate aid to 400 microenterprises thanks to the outpouring support from Arizona’s largest businesses and community nonprofits. LFA predicted federal help would be slow to trickle in and “unbankable” businesses would be left in the dust in the process. In an effort to better position Arizona’s local economy on a path to recovery, Local First Arizona focused on deploying funds to Arizona’s smallest businesses: those with 0-3 employees that generate less than $250,000 in annual revenue.

“Small businesses often only have about two weeks of capital reserves, and asking them to wait any longer for relief is unrealistic. While some have pivoted to online sales/curbside or inching into reopening, many have already closed, and getting back to pre-pandemic profits won’t be happening anytime soon. I’m in awe of our business community and local leaders who chose to invest in Arizona’s smallest businesses. I think there is a silver lining to all of this. We have learned these small businesses keep the Arizona economy running,” said Local First Arizona Founder Kimber Lanning.

“Where we keep our money – big banks vs. local banks – and how we spend our money has a rippling effect. Local First Arizona is prepared to work with our state leaders and consumers to ensure we come out of this stronger and more resilient,” Lanning added.

The LFA Small Business Relief Fund received initial support from the Salt River Project, with the Phoenix IDA, Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, APS, BHP,  twenty-seven companies from Greater Phoenix Leadership, and hundreds of individual donors jumping on shortly thereafter. All of these organizations serve different regions and demographics but are committed to building a stronger Arizona. 

From food entrepreneurs in Navajo Nation to towing companies in west Phoenix to bed and breakfasts in Southeastern Arizona and everything in between, grants ranging from $1,500 – $2,500 have allowed business owners in a variety of industries to pay off pending bills and plan for the days ahead. One of those businesses is the Simpson Hotel in Duncan, Arizona.

“I did a top-to-bottom renovation of the hundred-year-old building, and then set about making it into a sort of incubator for community projects as well as a rural stopover for travelers from around the world. Then came coronavirus and, like most hospitality businesses, we were crushed. Unlike others, we had no cushion, no savings, and not very good credit. This gift, seemingly coming out of nowhere, lifted me out of despair and set me firmly on a new level of creative thinking about what lies ahead for The Simpson Hotel and for Duncan,” says owner Deborah Mendelsohn.

With more than 2,800 applications submitted, Local First Arizona has closed the portal to apply but continues to provide real-time updates and resources to businesses. LFA actively fundraising to be able to provide relief to even more Arizona small businesses.

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