Preserve the Fort: Grants for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Preserve The Fort

When the City of Fort Worth received its federal funding from the CARES Act several weeks ago, it was important that a large portion of those funds be reinvested back into the local community.

So the city partnered with the United Way of Tarrant County to create a grant program for small businesses called Preserve the Fort that would dedicate $10 million towards preserving Fort Worth’s community of small businesses, helping them weather the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Preserve the Fort small business grant program is intended to help reimburse small businesses for the cost of business interruption due to COVID-19 as a result of required closures, voluntary closures to promote social distancing, or decreased demand for services.

Also, half of the grant funds – a total of $5 million – have specifically been set aside for minority-owned businesses and small businesses in several of Fort Worth’s low-to-moderate income communities.

The eligibility threshold for businesses is low – no credit scores or existing debts are taken into account. Instead, businesses just have to meet the following requirements:

  • Be a small business with 250 employees or less.
  • Alternatively, be a self-employed individual, independent contractor, sole proprietor, or nonprofit serving the business community.
  • Be located within the City of Fort Worth, with a Fort Worth mailing address.
  • Be located within the City of Fort Worth, with a Fort Worth mailing address.
  • Be registered to do business in the State of Texas.
  • Have been in operation since Sep. 1, 2019.
  • Be able to demonstrate a reduction in sales/revenue or employment since March 17 due to COVID-19.

And don’t worry – even if your business received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), you’re still eligible for these grants.

Before applying

That last requirement – to demonstrate a reduction in sales/revenue or employment since March 17 – can be a challenge for business owners, but it’s critical if they want to receive a grant. (Since these grants are made up of money from the federal government, there’s a lot more documentation involved than a normal grant application.)

Business owners who want to knock out their application as quickly as possible should prepare the following documents before starting:

  • A completed W-9 form.
  • Documentation of Going Concern and Business Verification. This will require one of the following documents: Secretary of State Texas File NumberEmployee Identification Number, DBA, 2018 or 2019 tax return (schedules not required).
  • Proof of employment. This will require one of the following documents: W-3 form (Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements), 941 form, or other document showing payroll expenses, employer insurance expenses, or employer retirement expenses for the first quarter of 2020 (prior to the COVID-19 emergency declaration on March 17, 2020) as well as the most current version of this document.
  • Profit & Loss (P&L) statement for 2019.
  • Profit & Loss (P&L) statement as of March 2020 or later, to show loss of income after COVID-19.
  • For sole proprietors, applicants are required to provide a 2018 or 2019 Schedule C.

All documentation is required for approval. If documentation is not provided with your application, you could be denied funding

How much are the grants?

Depending on the number of full-time staff your business employed as of March 17, 2020, the funding levels for a Preserve the Fort grant are as follows:

  • Micro-enterprises with less than 5 employees are eligible for a grant of $5,000.
  • Level I businesses (with 6-25 employees) are eligible for a grant of $7,500.
  • Level II businesses (with 26-50 employees) are eligible for a grant of $10,000.
  • Level III businesses (with 51-250 employees) are eligible for a grant of $50,000.

More examples of how the funds can be used are listed on the Preserve the Fort website. Also, keep in mind that business owners will be expected to document how they use their grant funds, in case of an audit.

Where do I go for help?

This may be the first time that many business owners are seeking financial assistance, and the city has resources available for those who need help.

For those who prefer to talk things out over the phone, Tarrant Small Business Development Center (Tarrant SBDC) is staffing a call center to help business owners prepare their documentation or fill out their applications. Contact the call center for assistance at 817-515-2603 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Also, for additional questions around eligibility, there are lists of Frequently Asked Questions available on the Preserve the Fort website in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Applications are open until 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 15

Applications are closing soon, so be sure to prep your documentation as listed above and apply as soon as you can.

Visit the Preserve the Fort website to learn more, and get started on your application.


About the Author
Andrea Duffie has more than a decade’s experience leading projects that help organizations of all kinds – from nonprofits to government – tell their stories through integrated communications. She’s currently a Communications Officer at the City of Fort Worth, where she provides marketing support across multiple channels for the city’s Economic Development Department, Park & Recreation Department, the city website, and other initiatives.

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