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Small business guidance available

WEIRTON — Area small businesses now have another resource to help them address the economic challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. The Region XI Brooke-Hancock Regional and Planning Council will be providing local small businesses with guidance regarding assistance programs.

“There are many ways small businesses can receive assistance, but the guidelines and procedures can seem overwhelming,” stated Craig Brown, economic development strategist at the Brooke-Hancock Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission.

“Our goal is to help businesses get over these obstacles and create a stronger and more resilient economic environment,” Brown continued, “We can do this by helping local people understand the processes and successfully complete the necessary applications.”

Brown said that he was glad many local businesses have taken advantage of programs like the Paycheck Protection Program offered by the Small Business Administration, but that other lesser-known programs can also benefit Brooke and Hancock counties.

He said that local business owners should check out the West Virginia CARES Act Small Business Grant Program. Funds are now available for many different uses, including installation of drive-through windows, contactless equipment, and much more.

“We have to approach the economic fallout from COVID-19 like we would a natural disaster; by studying, planning, and rebuilding to assure our region’s long-term strength and resiliency,” Brown said.

According to J.P. Morgan Chase, 48 percent of all U.S. employees work for small businesses, and 18 percent of all U.S. employees work for employers with 20 employees or less.

In April, unemployment numbers peaked for Hancock and Brooke counties. Hancock County had 17.2 percent unemployment, and Brooke County had 16.3 percent unemployment.

BHJ-MPC Executive Director Mike Paprocki added, “Recovering from this pandemic will be one of the greatest challenges ever faced by the Ohio Valley. Making sure business owners can take advantage of the help they have been offered is a good start,” said Mike Paprocki. BHJ’s executive director.

In June, West Virginia Economic Development Districts were awarded funds by the U.S. EDA to create regional economic development plans to stimulate and guide economic development efforts.

Interested businesses can get more information or schedule a free onsite or virtual meeting with Brown by visiting bhjmpc.org/covid-19assistance/ or by contacting him at (304) 797-9666.

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