Grants available to local businesses

By Jeff Lawson - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Chamber of Commerce has had a record number of businesses apply this year for its small business grant program. The grants range from $500 to $2,500.

The School and Carnival Supply store on Gulfport's Cowan Road is one of the 19 businesses that have applied for the grants.

"Our major competition is internet based," Store Manager Genna Smith said. "We plan on using the grant money, if we get it, to do some upgrading and improving to our web business."

How to use the grant money is left up to the individual businesses.

Teckie Hinkebein is the Executive Director of the Gulfport chamber.

"We have businesses that have needs ranging from simple marketing expenses, to some just need it to pay their rent one month, if they are having a tough month," Hinkebein said.

The grant program was established by the chamber after Hurricane Katrina.

"Initially, we saw such a great need from the small business community. 80 percent of our membership is small businesses, so we really saw no need to end the program," Hinkebein said.

The vast majority of the funding comes from a festival fund raiser the chamber has each year. To qualify, you must be a Gulfport business, belong to the chamber, and have 50 employees or fewer. The Biloxi chamber is offering a similar program. In fact, their phase two begins soon.

As for the Gulfport program, the deadline to apply ends September 11th. For more information, you can contact either chamber.

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