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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Micro-Grants Give Boost To Small Minority-Owned Local Businesses

Bill Rinehart
Adrienne Onley (left) watches as Lawrence Cain, Jr., thanks CEG for a micro-grant.

Local minority-owned small businesses are getting some help this week. A consortium of churches and businesses awarded 20 micro-grants. Recipient Adrienne Onley opened Touch of Heaven floral shop in Mount Healthy in February, before the pandemic hit. She says she didn't qualify for a federal payroll loan.

"I've been maintaining from month to month, but the CEG grant actually kept me (going) for this month, because resources were dwindling. Now, business is picking up. I have plans for the future as far as getting a driver," she says. "I just see hope now."

Onley says she's one of the businesses trying to revitalize the Mount Healthy area.

The Collective Empowerment Group's Relaunch fund started in July, to help small business owners with rent, payroll expenses and inventory.

The CEO of a financial literacy company, Lawrence Cain, Jr. says he sees the grant as a form of building relationships and community in times of uncertainty. "We don't know what is going to happen over the next few months, with the pandemic and with how schools have specifically impacted my business."

Cain's Abundance University teaches kids and adults how to handle money. He says, like many educational organizations, they've had to switch to virtual classes.

CEG was founded by churches, financial institutions and businesses to promote community prosperity.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.