Some local businesses are getting a much-needed boost thanks to grants given out by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce.
While the chamber’s fundraising capabilities have been limited, the assistance they’re providing South Mississippi businesses is still going strong when help is needed most.
The Yard Milkshake Bar survived the Shark Tank, but less than one year after local entrepreneurs Lynn Hammons and Shelley Creel opened the chain’s first new franchise location in D’Iberville, COVID struck. Hammons said, “This is a shark in itself. It certainly has its challenges. We had to shut down sometime in April. We actually shut down because our expenses were greater than the income. We opened back up in May. We’ve gotten a lot of support from the community. We’re at about 50-percent dining capacity now. We’re getting a lot of support. The Chamber has been helpful. We’re doing everything we can to keep our doors open and keep our heads above water and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce has provided a grant to keep us open and we appreciate that.”
This is just one of about 40 local businesses that got a boost and received a grant from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Grant program. Money is awarded each year to qualifying businesses in our area with 25 employees or less. Rachael Kiesling with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce said, “We started this program post-Katrina because obviously, everybody was in need, and there was an opportunity for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce to step in and provide assistance. Through the years we continued it. We feel like we could help businesses with expenses such as marketing, equipment, beautification, and it’s been a very successful program. Of course, in a post-COVID world, those opportunities change, and what businesses need is cash, and they need money in their businesses and if the Chamber can provide an injection of cash to help with some of those additional expenses or funds lost, we’re here to do that.”
It’s been a life-line for local business owners like Lynn Hammons who, as a life-long Saints fan, knows how to hang in there, take the hits, and still believe. “We’re going to get through this somehow, someway. We might as well do it together!”