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August 7, 2020

7/8/2020 11:58:00 AM
COVID grants awarded to Las Chalupas, 5 others

Representatives of the Jennings County Economic Development Commission (JCEDC) and Jennings County Community Foundation (JCCF) say they are thrilled to award the $5000 COVID-19 Relief & Assistance Grant to Las Chalupas, North Vernon's well-loved Mexican restaurant.

The funds, provided by the Duke Energy Foundation through a small business support initiative, will help the restaurant cover overhead costs and retain employees so that they may continue providing Mexican food and a safe, enjoyable gathering space for Jennings County residents and visitors.

Las Chalupas was chosen from among a strong pool of applicants by a grant review committee comprised of the JCEDC Board of Directors, JCEDC Executive Director Kathy Ertel, and JCCF Executive Director Joanie Van Horn.

After selecting the winner, JCEDC Board President Albert Jackson, former banker and long-time business man, noted, "All businesses have been hard hit by COVID, but especially restaurants. Las Chalupas presented a strong case for how they will support their staff, customers, and business needs during this hard time and are a well-deserving recipient of the grant."

Kathy Ertel, JCEDC Executive Director, is acutely aware of the hardships faced by Jennings County businesses and has worked diligently since the onset of the pandemic to offer support, communication, and financial assistance to both industry and small business in the community.

"The JCEDC is extremely grateful to the Duke Energy Founda-tion's support of small business, not just in Jennings County, but all around the State of Indiana," she said. "Las Chalupas and the other applicants all demonstrated need and thoughtfulness within their requests."

In fact, the expressed need was so strong that the JCEDC and JCCF worked together to award additional local dollars to all other applicants through a separate COVID Response Fund housed in the Community Foundation.

Ertel hopes that "these additional grant dollars will lessen the strain just a bit."

Recipients include: Innovations Hair Studio, Indiana Spike & Rail Company, North Vernon Plain Dealer & Sun, Southern Machine & Tool Works, LLC, and Stream Cliff Farm Nursery.

The COVID Relief & Assistance Grant is hopefully the first round of future small business financial support opportunities offered by the JCEDC. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs is currently accepting applications for the COVID Response Program, a competitive grant upwards of $250,000 for small business aid.

If successful in their application, the JCEDC looks to expand the grant program and offer financial assistance to all small business owners in Jennings County.

There is a long road ahead to stabilization and recovery, but the JCEDC believes that community partnership, local support, open communication, and innovative programming will ensure future economic vitality for Jennings.

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