First round of grants distributed to small businesses in Summit

SUMMIT, NJ — The outbreak of COVID-19 has crippled some businesses and residents in the tristate area and across the nation, with many small businesses wondering where the money will come from to get them back on their feet. Summit has already taken the first step toward helping local small businesses: Summit Downtown Inc. recently announced that the first rounds of grants from the Sustain Summit Fund were distributed to 117 Summit small businesses in May.

The Sustain Summit Fund is a collaborative effort between Summit Downtown Inc., the Summit Foundation and the city of Summit to help local small businesses during this time of unprecedented economic and public health hardship.

The fund was created with the idea that these small grants would assist with short-term business expenses until other state and federal grants and loans could be obtained. Most of the funds came from private donations, including a $50,000 donation from the Summit Foundation.

“The Sustain Summit Fund has over $332,000,” SDI Executive Director Nancy Adams said on May 7, adding that more than $270,000 has already been distributed to local businesses. “We hope the businesses feel the love and support of the Summit community, as they donated in generous amounts to help the local businesses they know and love, and by donating have sent along their emotional as well as financial support. I’ve heard from so many businesses who are grateful for the financial help and equally grateful for the love and support they feel from the community.”

A grant selection committee made up of Summit residents determined the parameters for deciding which businesses got grants and at what amounts. This was done using information provided by the businesses in their applications about employee hours and rental expenses.

Mayor Nora Radest, who spearheaded the Sustain Summit effort, said it is heartening to see the community come together at this time.

“COVID-19 has been devastating for Summit’s small businesses,” Radest said. “These independently owned businesses help give our city the vibrancy and sense of community that we all cherish. It has been heartwarming to see our residents come together to help them survive this health and economic disaster.”

Wanting to remain anonymous, but nevertheless sharing their gratitude, local businesses expressed how great it feels to receive aid through thank-you emails and handwritten notes to the SDI.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude and want you to know how much this is desperately needed and appreciated. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” one recipient wrote.
“Summit is truly such a great and loving community! We are grateful to be a part of downtown,” another recipient wrote. “Hoping for the best and this ends soon.”

“Thank you so much, the funds will be used to keep our door open to continue to serve the community of Summit,” another recipient wrote.

One grateful recipient was overwhelmed by the funding.

“I can’t tell you how meaningful and special your $2,000 grant is for my business. It comes at a very critical time. Please convey my gratitude to all involved. I live here and work here and have always realized what a special community we have.”

Another recipient was inspired by this act of service.

“We are so grateful for all the support, both emotional and financial,” the recipient wrote. “In this unprecedented time, it is so wonderful and inspirational to see the generosity of the Summit community at work. Thank you all!”

The SDI recently announced a new virtual event, “See Something in Summit,” which is patterned after the old newspaper game “Where is this?” In the game, a photo is published and readers try to guess what it’s a photo of and where it was taken. The Summit version will begin May 16 and run through Memorial Day.

“See Something in Summit” will be played on Instagram, @SummitDowntown, where each day a picture will be posted with the hashtag #seesomethinginsummit. People should comment with their guess of what the picture is and/or where it was taken. All pictures will be in downtown Summit, so SDI encourages people to notice the stores, store windows, restaurants and all they can when they go out.

The first person to identify the picture correctly in the comments on Instagram will win a $50 Summit gift card, good at more than 100 businesses in the city of Summit.

This comes after the cancellation of Design Day at the end of April and the postponement of Family Fun Night, originally scheduled for June 11. Beginning June 4, SDI is proceeding as planned with Summit Street Sounds, an event that doesn’t encourage large crowds of people, because SDI’s board decided this popular event every Thursday and Friday evening in June would lift the spirits of residents walking around downtown, and, if restaurants are permitted to open by then, could also provide a fun and entertaining downtown atmosphere even with social distancing measures in place.