News & Reports

Open for Business – Recovery Assistance Grant Available to Businesses in Wythe County

September 30, 2020

Localities offering COVID-19 relief funding for locally owned businesses in Wythe County, the Town of Wytheville, and the Town of Rural Retreat

Small business has borne much of the economic brunt of the COVID-19 public health crisis, and Wythe County’s small businesses are no exception. To respond to the financial needs of our local business community, a coalition of partners collaborated to create an innovative grant program. The Open for Business Recovery Assistance Grant is an initiative designed to support locally owned small businesses that has experienced a negative economic impact due to COVID-19 with over $1.1 million in assistance available.

Funding comes from Wythe County, the Town of Wytheville, and the Town of Rural Retreat from a combination of sources including federal CARES Act dollars as well as Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Wythe County Board of Supervisors Chairman Brian Vaught said, “The past six months have presented unimaginable challenges for many local businesses in our community.  This is particularly heartbreaking because in addition to serving as the backbone to our economy, they also represent the dreams and labors of real families.  I am pleased with the cooperation between the county and local town councils in making this grant program a reality.”

Mayor of Wytheville Beth Taylor commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult on all aspects of our local economy. The Town of Wytheville was pleased to be able to secure $800,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds from the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development to help make this important funding source available to our local businesses. This is an excellent example of how when we all work together, we can make some incredible things happen in our community.”

Additional funding in the amount of $300,000 comes from Wythe County and the Town of Rural Retreat is pledging funds to support the project, as well.

Acceptable uses of the grants include costs associated with responding to COVID-19 restrictions and market conditions, rent and mortgage assistance, and other like expenses.

Discussion was among the three localities as well as interested local organizations including the Joint Industrial Development Authority of Wythe CountyDowntown Wytheville Incorporated, the Wytheville-Wythe-Bland Chamber of Commerce, and the Wytheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“The collaboration you see here shows great things can be accomplished. With the financial support of our three local government partners we can administer this important grant program that will help our small businesses remain resilient in the face of unprecedented economic challenges,” commented Joint IDA Chairman David Kause.

A leading program goal was to serve businesses throughout Wythe County and the Towns of Wytheville and Rural Retreat.

Mayor Tim Litz of the Town of Rural Retreat commented, “The Town of Rural Retreat has a vibrant small business community that has felt the financial challenges arising from COVID-19. This is our chance in the public sector to support our private sector partners.”

Additional shared priorities included a straightforward application to minimize administrative work for applicants as well as clear guidelines and support options. Getting the money working in our communities was priority number one.

Chairman of the Wytheville-Wythe-Bland Chamber of Commerce Matt Clarke summarized the work saying, “Small business is the foundation of any community’s economy and our small businesses need our support now more than ever. The Wytheville-Wythe-Bland Chamber of Commerce is an advocate for business in this area and we are glad to support this project.”

Downtown Wytheville Incorporated Board President Josh Pennington commented, “This is an incredible opportunity for business owners in our area to find assistance for expenses that have been extremely hard to deal with in the recent health crisis. As a community, the cooperation between institutions will provide local businesses a highly organized process to access these grant funds quickly. I am proud of the hard work from everyone involved and the speed of action that our leaders have applied to the burdens placed on all of the small business owners throughout our area.”

The Open for Business grant initiative has been in development for several weeks and the application went live on Wednesday, September 30. Applications and program guidelines are available at or at any of the partner websites. Paper copies are available, as well. All completed applications and supporting documentation should be sent to the Joint IDA by e-mail at or by mail at 190 S. 1st Street, Wytheville VA 24382.

Businesses can be mailed or emailed applications and guidelines as well by contacting one of the partners:

Joint Industrial Development Authority
John Matthews, Associate Director / 276-223-3370

Downtown Wytheville Incorporated
Todd Wolford, Executive Director / 276-223-3343

Wytheville-Wythe-Bland Chamber of Commerce
Jennifer Atwell, Executive Director / 276-223-3365

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