Felicia Roberts was ready to launch her new business in early March.
Three years in the making, Roberts opened London’s Tea Palace, an event center on Chapel Hill Road.
Just as the doors were opening, Roberts was forced to shutdown as the coronavirus pandemic was just beginning.
“I had to close before I opened,” she said. “It has been a struggle. It has been very hard.”
Roberts has gotten some relief as business restrictions have been lifted some, and a grant through the Douglas County Chamber of Commerce will help the new entrepreneur keep her doors open.
The Chamber’s Elevate Douglas COVID-19 Business Relief Grant is a public-private partnership that is providing relief funds to small businesses in the county.
The $250,000 grant was divided by 58 local businesses through the help of the city of Douglasville, Google, Switch and the Douglas County Economic Development Authority.
Qualified businesses were awarded between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on their number of employees. Money was earmarked for the use of paying utilities, mortgage, vendor supplier invoices, Personal Protective Equipment, sanitation supplies, services and other equipment.
Chamber president and CEO Sara Ray said that 289 businesses applied for one of the grants. Businesses that qualified were chosen for the grants by a lottery system.
“We are so excited to support small businesses in our county,” Douglasville Mayor Rochelle Robinson said. “My parents were small business owners. I know the struggles of small businesses, especially during times like these. We know America is made up of small businesses.”
Monarch Family Dentistry qualified for a grant, and owner Dr. O’Tisha Preston-Hill said she is going to use the funds to pay it forward.
She said she had obtained two other small business grants, and wanted to use this one to support the community.
“We are going to give two to three people a free treatment,” Preston-Hill said after receiving her check on Tuesday afternoon. “We want to supply a smile to someone in the community.”
Robert Elliott, senior vice-president of government and public affairs at Switch.com, said the businesses are the “backbone of the community” and that is why his company got involved.
“We wanted to find ways to be helpful, and that does my heart good,” Elliott told the business owners. “You are the heart of the community. We want to help you get through this. We want you to not only survive, but thrive.”