The Prince William County Department of Economic Development (DED) watched with the rest of the world as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the global economy to a tumultuous standstill. Yet as the team committed to developing the county’s economic future, DED immediately started speeding up support faster than ever before.
“We knew that eventually things would open back up again and businesses were going to have to make improvements,” says Christina Winn, executive director of DED. “So we needed to be thinking ahead to what we needed to do to help these businesses reopen safely, start getting customers, and build that level of confidence with consumers.”
Winn worked with her team at DED to quickly organize the Economic Recovery Taskforce (ERT), a group of more than 65 business leaders, community stakeholders, and government staff. The taskforce quickly convened with the goal of developing recommendations to help accelerate Prince William County’s economic recovery.
Among the ERT’s recommendations in the spring of 2020 was the creation of grant programs that would speak to businesses infrastructure needs, especially innovations needed to surpass the pandemic’s obstacles. After presenting comprehensive recommendations at the July 9, 2020 Board of County Supervisors' meeting, the DED team quickly began implementing several programs to benefit the local Prince William County business community. Learn more in the 2020 DED Annual Report.
By allocating approximately $7.2 million from CARES Act funding, the Prince William County Capital Investment and Innovation Grant program provided funding up to $200,000 per business. The grant program initially required a 50 percent match for all companies, but with key feedback from the business community, DED worked to remove the match criteria for nonprofits and businesses with revenues under $2.5 million.
More than 160 businesses applied for funding, with a final 122 businesses receiving funding to make physical improvements to adhere to health and safety guidelines or to make capital investments. By ensuring businesses had access to this support, DED accelerated business owners’ abilities to
- protect employee jobs,
- meet the needs of the crisis from the frontline,
- find their customers in new ways, and
- invest in technology-based solutions for future success.
“I think long-term, the program had a very positive impact on our business community,” says Tom Flynn, director of business development and investment at DED. “I am really proud of the work this office did and the collaboration we built with the business community in designing and implementing this program.”
Watch cinematic success stories from your community on the DED’s Building Momentum Channel, which features spotlight stories from grant program recipients:
- Staying the Path: Emerald Ironworks Expands Shop While Protecting Job Security
- Building Crisis Resiliency: ACTS Leads with a Frontline Focus
- Knowing Your Customer: Dulles Glass & Mirror’s Cornerstone Approach to Technology
- Deciding to Dance: Showcase Dance Studio Invests in Their Digital Company