EAST WINDSOR — Over 100 small businesses and nonprofit organizations in town will each receive funding up to $10,000 from the town’s Emergency Relief and Stabilization Effort grant.

In total, 109 locally owned small businesses and nonprofits will reap the benefits of the townwide initiative designed to assist with economic pandemic recovery.

After receiving a large number of applications, the Board of Selectmen this month agreed to appropriate an additional $200,000 to the grant pool, which was originally capped at $900,000.

The town will use roughly $1.1 million, or 32%, of the $3.4 million it received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“I think it was successful,” First Selectman Jason E. Bowsza said. “It shows the town is trying to be partners with small businesses and nonprofits as they come out of the pandemic.

Bowsza said the money being distributed also demonstrates that there is a need within the community.

Amy Azzara, owner of Funky Finds on South Main Street, said the grant money would be incredibly helpful in catching up on business expenses.

“Everything seems like it is expensive right now — I’ve been trying to be creative to cut some costs, but it has been difficult,” Azzara said.

Al Yagliveri, manager at Hot Cakes on South Main Street, said the breakfast restaurant had a difficult time staying open and making money last year.

Golden Irene’s owner George Akkouris said he plans to use the grant money to staff the restaurant.

“$10,000 is $10,000, and we need staff right now,” he said.

Akkouris said that businesses suffer when added pressure is put on staff to meet customers’ needs.

“I feel for my staff. It makes the whole system so much harder,” Akkouris said. “They feel like they are under so much pressure because we don’t have enough staff.”

Bowsza said businesses should expect to receive money from the grant on or around Labor Day.

The town has roughly $2 million remaining from the American Rescue Plan Act.




By Harry