The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized the creation of the PIVOT Business Grant Recovery Program. The aim of the program is to offer monetary relief to small business and non-profit organizations that had been greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
This decision comes after research was done to find how the pandemic affected small businesses in the county. The framework from which the county worked includes specific businesses in markets of food service, lodging and hotels, retail, services, amusement, arts organizations, museums, and historical sites. Also, the non-profits that would be under consideration would be those that have filed as 501©(3) organizations under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
Through that framework the county estimated that about 48,200 jobs were through December 2020. Many of the jobs lost in these particular markets were specifically concentrated in food service, hospitality, and retail sectors. Combined with other business types listed in the framework, these sectors accounted for 50 percent of total job losses in the county in 2020.
Data from other organizations within those sectors added to the dire report of how Fairfax County and Northern Virginia as a whole had been affected by the pandemic. Such examples included a report by the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association that 77 percent of all restaurant operators reported lower sales in January 2021 than a year earlier.
Another statistic provided by global hospitality firm STR found that Virginia lodging businesses experienced a monthly average decrease of more than 50 percent in 2020 when compared to the prior year. This percentage in real money comes out to a total of $2.2 billion in lost revenue.
PIVOT has been designed with three particular desired outcomes in mind: to help the small businesses and non-profits most negatively affected by the pandemic, to sustain sectors that employ a disproportionate number of low-income and minority workers, and assist those who are impacted by mitigating financial hardship, funding implementation of Coronavirus prevention, or both.
One potential concern of the program was brought up by Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross who brought up the plight of Vietnamese businesses who have a language barrier and may have issues accessing PIVOT due to lack of English language skills. Gross also acknowledged that this issue may also extend to other business owners for whom English may not be their first language. She acknowledged an effort must be made to find ways to help those businesses access the program.
In order to fund the program, the Board authorized $25 million in funds to be appropriated from the money received by the county from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act. The bill which was signed by President Joe R. Biden, in March is designed to provide relief to address the continued impact of the coronavirus on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.