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story.lead_photo.caption The Fulton Area Development Fund has $400,000 in county CARES Act funds for small business marketing grants. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

The Fulton Area Development Fund is offering a new grant program for Callaway County small businesses.

Business owners can learn about the grant, which will help cover costs incurred to help boost sales or for marketing costs, during two upcoming webinars.

The first, scheduled for 10 a.m. today, will go over the grant application. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions. A second webinar focused on resources and options for businesses to use the marketing grant funds will be at noon Thursday.

To attend either webinar, email Callaway Chamber of Commerce business relations manager Shane Moriarity at [email protected]

This is the second pandemic-related grant the FADF has been able to administer thanks to CARES Act funding from Callaway County. The two previous grants, which cover the costs of improving and reopening and utilities, are both still open.

"From our small business recovery grant that we did, one of the things that we asked them to do was to tell us their stories," Chamber Executive Director Tamara Tateosian said.

One common refrain was that some businesses are working to bring customers back.

"They need to be able to get customers back in," Tateosian said.

Businesses reported marketing as an important focus. The purpose of the grant is to cover marketing needs such as updating websites, television or radio commercials, newspaper advertisements, banner advertisements and social media.

Businesses must have 50 or less employees and have been adversely impacted this year due to COVID-19 to qualify.

The marketing grant was only announced Monday, but already, many have expressed interest, Tateosian said.

"We have had lots of responses — lots of questions," she said. "We've already had some people submit their applications."

To apply, businesses should complete the application available at callawaychamber.net/covid-19-resources/ and submit a copy of the 2020 business license or certificate of good standing and a marketing plan.

"It is a simple one-page application, and we're just asking them to tell us what their marketing plan is," Tateosian said. "Or, if they've already done some marketing, they can tell us what they did."

The application should also be notarized and returned by Oct. 30, though the grant program will remain open for as long as there are funds.

"We've got to have a deadline — CARES Act funds have to be depleted by Dec. 30," Tateosian said.

The county has allocated $400,000 for the marketing grants. CARES Act funds have to be distributed by the end of the year — so far the county has doled out millions to communities, businesses, schools and individuals, working on everything from personal protective gear and sanitation to economic recovery and utility assistance.

The county has worked with the FADF and the chamber to tackle support for the business community.

"We're trying to hit all the needs of the small businesses and the community in Callaway County," Tateosian said.

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