FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Firefly Coffee House is one of more than 200 city businesses that received federal funding from the CARES Act provided by the state of Indiana.
The CARES grant program is a partnership between the City of Fort Wayne, Allen County and Greater Fort Wayne Inc., offering small businesses and non-profit organizations grants up to $5,000 to cover expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul Demaree who shares ownership of the coffee shop with his wife Cyndi says, “We do this business not only for ourselves but for our community. So when we applied for a grant, it’s not just so that we can have more money to go on a vacation. It’s money so we can keep our store open and help the community heal and get through this.”
The City of Fort Wayne closed the application portal for grants to small businesses located inside City limits on Tuesday.
“It definitely only took less than a month to exhaust $750,000,” said Mary Tyndall, Community Development Public Information Officer at the City of Fort Wayne.
The CARES grant supplied a total of $1 million for COVID-19 related costs, $750,000 to the City of Fort Wayne and $250,000 to Allen County.
Demaree and his wife applied for the grant on Oct. 23, just two days after it was introduced.
Since then, the small businesses and non-profit organizations within Fort Wayne have already exhausted the funds.
The Demaree couple installed a tent at Firefly for outside seating with more space for social distancing, and more recently heaters for winter.
Both items will be reimbursed by the grant, which allows businesses with fewer than 150 employees to be repaid for expenses like personal protective equipment, sanitation products, minor facility changes, and technology investments.
Operations Director of Three Rivers Distillery Greg Bercaw says businesses and organizations that can no longer apply have to become creative to sustain themselves as long as the pandemic lasts.
“We have to continue to find ways to bring people in,” said Bercaw. “But we have to keep them safe.”
Andrea Robinson, head of the City of Fort Wayne’s Economic Development division, says she and her colleagues were excited to help local business owners during difficult times, but she knows the funding can only last so long.
“It’s great to be part of it, but it’s heartbreaking that there are so many people that need the money,” said Robinson.
The City hasn’t confirmed a plan following grant application deadlines, but Robinson says they plan to distribute more federal funding as soon as it’s available.
Businesses and non-profit organizations outside the city limits of Fort Wayne, but within Allen County may still apply for the CARES grant through Dec. 1
For more information, click here.