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story.lead_photo.caption Over 120 businesses have applied for a local recovery grant so far. Photo by File photo

It's not too late for small businesses to apply for local COVID-19 recovery funds.

The Fulton Area Development Foundation has extended the deadline for applications for Small Business Recovery Grants to August 28.

By the original deadline of August 7, the foundation had received 129 applications from small businesses in Callaway County.

"We got a great response," Callaway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tamara Tateosian said. "There are still businesses we have learned that haven't gotten to apply yet."

The Chamber mailed an application to every small business in the county that they could find — more than 400.

The application asks applicants to share the story of how COVID-19 has impacted their business.

"Some of the stories were very heartbreaking," Tateosian said. "The first three years are the hardest for a small business and many were up and going and things were going well, and then all of a sudden, the bottom dropped off."

Responses collected by the foundation will help the chamber understand the impact of the pandemic. This information can then be used to help the state better understand the situation as well.

"I keep getting asked by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, 'How has COVID-19 impacted small businesses in your area?'" Tateosian said.

The grant — which is possible due to CARES Act funding distributed by Callaway County — can be used with COVID-19 related business expenses.

"One of the things I hear again and again is businesses are struggling with getting the customers to come back," Tateosian said. "People just don't feel safe yet."

Tateosian encourages people to shop local and to support local businesses.

The chamber has dropped off approved applications with the county so that it can begin sending out the first checks.

Nonprofits and small businesses with 50 or less employees can apply by visiting callawaychamber.net/covid-19-resources/.

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