Dominion Energy, Altria commit grant funding for small businesses
Altria pledges $675K for Richmond-area nonprofits, while Dominion pledges $600K to RVA, Hampton Roads businesses
Updated 2:30 p.m. Aug. 27
Two Virginia corporate giants announced details Thursday on funding for small businesses in Richmond and Hampton Roads affected by protest-related damage and ongoing coronavirus hardships.
Altria Group Inc., based in Henrico County, and Richmond-based Dominion Energy Inc. pledged $5 million each for small businesses and social justice organizations in June, following the start of national protests against police violence and institutional racism.
Dominion Energy Inc. announced Thursday it has committed $600,000 to a community initiative to assist small businesses in Richmond and Hampton Roads, and Altria will provide $675,000 to four Richmond-area nonprofit organizations that will assist Richmond-area businesses.
Dominion is committing $600,000 to the We Care Rebuild Project — led by community organizations, including the Metropolitan Business League, Chamber RVA, Urban League of Hampton Roads and others — that will provide grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to small businesses owned by women and/or minorities. The Richmond program will open for applications Sept. 21 through Oct. 5, with a second application period expected later in the year, and the Hampton Roads application period will open Oct. 1. Information for the Hampton Roads program will be available soon at the Urban League’s site.
Altria, meanwhile, is contributing $350,000 to the Richmond-area fund, overseen by the Metropolitan Business League. It will support businesses recovering from protest-related damages and economic effects of COVID-19, with a focus on Black-owned businesses, according to the company. It also will provide $150,000 to LISC for grants and technical assistance for micro-businesses in the Richmond region, $150,000 for Virginia Community Capital to help small, diverse businesses with loan relief, interest forgiveness and other capital access opportunities, and $25,000 for BLK RVA, a Richmond Tourism initiative to assist and elevate Black-owned “Main Street” businesses.
The We Care grants will support graffiti removal and cleanup, emergency funding and business coaching, with corporate sponsors Capital One joining Altria and Dominion, and support from the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, the Robins Foundation, Venture Richmond and Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) Virginia. LISC Hampton Roads, Virginia Community Capital and Black BRAND will support the Hampton Roads program.
Dominion said in a news release that it plans to announce similar initiatives for small businesses in Ohio and South Carolina soon.
Downtown Richmond has seen nearly nightly protests since early June, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, who has been charged with second-degree murder. Some businesses were damaged, with smashed windows and graffiti tags. Hampton Roads localities, including Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, also have seen protests for racial justice this summer.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced earlier this month that he would pursue a $500,000 grant program for Richmond businesses harmed during protests, with one-time grants up to $10,000 to cover costs for damage to windows and removal of graffiti. On Aug. 10, the Richmond City Council approved the program. Applications will be open Sept. 1-30.