COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus and Franklin County are offering $8 million in grant funding toward small businesses in central Ohio.

“We have a model that works in getting these dollars into the hands of the businesses that need them the most,” said Shannon Hardin, council president for the city of Columbus.

Hardin said central Ohio’s leaders came together for this initiative, which focuses on minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses in the area.

For local black-owned businesses, such as Training Camp Ohio and The Pit BBQ Grille, managers Gloria Tarpley and A’Leah Martin, respectively, say they’ve been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some people were scared to come in and work out,” Tarpley said.

“It’s been tough, for sure,” Martin said.

This is why both women said they were encouraged to see a grant program focused on helping businesses like theirs.

“A lot of times, we, unfortunately, get overlooked in a lot of these opportunities, and so to help minority businesses here in Columbus, Ohio, that’s just huge,” Tarpley said.

“I’m happy to see it because it is a struggle for small businesses and also minority businesses to thrive, especially during something that is holding us back,” Martin said.

With funds of up to $20,000 being offered to businesses that qualify, both said the money can be put to good use in supporting themselves and the community.

“We can do more marketing, you know, it’ll be more cost-effective with our food,” Martin said. “Some of our items we’ve had to take off the menu because they’re just so high.”

“More community outreach, get more youth programs, and keep the youth off the streets,” Tarpley said.

To apply for the grant program, business owners can click here.