The City of Fort Worth recently received approximately $158 million in funding from the CARES Act, and is partnering with the United Way of Tarrant County to distribute $10 million of those funds to Fort Worth small businesses through the Preserve the Fort small business grant program. Of the $10 million allocated for Preserve the Fort grants, $2.5 million will be dedicated to supporting minority-owned businesses, and another $2.5 million is reserved for businesses located in the city’s Neighborhood Empowerment Zones and Designated Investment Zones – areas of Fort Worth that are predominantly low-to-moderate income, which the city has already identified for revitalization efforts. Grant applications will be processed with the help of partners at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce.
Applications for Preserve the Fort grants open Tuesday, May 26, and will close at 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 8. Business owners can apply at fortworthtexas.gov/preserve-the-fort.
“These grants are critical to helping support and preserve the city’s small business community, which has helped define so much of Fort Worth’s character,” said Robert Sturns, the city’s Economic Development Director. “As businesses across the state start to reopen, these grants can help offset some of the costs from the recent shutdown and provide a way forward for those small businesses who have been hit hardest.” “We applaud the City of Fort Worth for developing the Preserve the Fort Grant Program and using CARES Act funding to help our small business community,” said Leah King, President and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County. “The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating to so many small business owners who had to close because of the shelter-in-place restrictions. It is our sincere hope that these funds allow them to get back on their feet and position them for long-term success.”
Grant funds are open to businesses who fit the following criteria:
- Small business (250 employees or less).
- Located within the City of Fort Worth, with a Fort Worth mailing address.
- Registered to do business in the State of Texas.
- Business must have been in operation since Sep. 1, 2019.
- Self-employed individuals, independent contractors, sole proprietors, and nonprofits serving the business community are also eligible.
- If a business has already received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or an
Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they are still eligible to receive these funds. However, priority will be given to businesses that have not received funding through these programs. For more information about eligibility requirements and other questions, a list of frequently asked questions is available on the Preserve the Fort webpage in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Depending on the number of full-time staff a business employed as of March 17, 2020, the funding levels are:
- Micro-enterprises with less than 5 employees are eligible for a grant of $5,000.
- Level I businesses (with 6-25 employees) are eligible for a grant of $7,500.
- Level II businesses (with 26-50 employees) are eligible for a grant of $10,000.
- Level III businesses (with 51-250 employees) are eligible for a grant of $50,000.
Preserve the Fort grant funds can be used to reimburse the costs of business interruption due to COVID-19 as a result of required closures, voluntary closures to promote social distancing, or decreased customer demand. A complete list of examples is available on the Preserve the Fort webpage.
Businesses who receive grant funding are required to document how the funds are used.
Business owners can complete the Preserve the Fort funding application more quickly by getting the following business documents in order:
- A completed W-9 form.
- Documentation of Going Concern and Business Verification. This will require one of the following documents: Secretary of State Texas File Number, Employee Identification Number, DBA, 2018 or 2019 tax return (schedules not required), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or Certificate of Filing.
- Proof of employment. This will require one of the following documents: W-3 form, 941 form, or other document showing payroll expenses, employer insurance expenses, or employer retirement expenses for the first quarter of 2020 (prior to the COVID-19 emergency declaration on March 17, 2020) as well as the most current version of this document.
- Profit & Loss (P&L) statement for 2019, as well as a P&L statement as of March 2020.
- For sole proprietors, applicants are required to provide a 2018 or 2019 Schedule C.
Once business owners compile this information, they can visit fortworthtexas.gov/preserve-thefort to begin their application.
Questions and application help
Because this may be the first time that many business owners are applying for financial aid, there are a variety of resources available to help make this application process as simple as possible. In addition to FAQs and other documents available on the Preserve the Fort website in three languages, Tarrant Small Business Development Center is staffing a call center to help business owners prepare their application documentation or fill out their applications between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the call center for assistance at 817-515-2603. For more information about the Preserve the Fort grant program, contact the City of Fort Worth Communications & Public Engagement Office at 817-392-8889 or by emailing email@example.com.