Grants available for businesses hurt by city construction projec - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Grants available for businesses hurt by city construction projects

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The Wilcox Tunnel has been closed for construction since August, and now it's not expected to reopen until April. While the community agrees the tunnel needed the improvements, many local business owners say they're losing out on customers and profits.

"Everything around here is struggling, you know from the gas stations to the Family Dollar, everything's hurt," said Martin Chapman, owner of Wedgewood Cleaners.

 Chapman has been working at his family's dry cleaning business since he was just a kid.

"We've been here for 30 years, I'm the third generation owner," he said.

Lately he's noticed business has been slow. The Wilcox Tunnel typically sees 16,000 cars a day.
    
Now that it's closed for repairs, many of those people spend their money somewhere else.

"Drastic decrease, especially during the five o'clock hour and even here in the morning," Chapman said, "Usually this road's pack and especially in the evening it's bumper to bumper but there's nothing out there now at all."

The city is now setting aside 25 $1,000 grants. The city says between 30 and 40 local businesses have reported a drop in sales between 25 and 50 percent. As more businesses apply, it is possible more grants will be available.

"Well we wanted to do something that was meaningful but also responsible to taxpayers," said Donna Williams, Administrator of the Department of Economic and Community Development, "And that's the number that we landed on based on the research that had been done in multiple cities."

The grants don't have strings attached but the city hopes businesses will use it for ads and promotion to bring customers back.
    
Chapman says he'll give it a try.

"We're going to apply for it and hope to get it and we're going to use that money to try and do some advertising which we've never really done," he said, "I'm just really excited for it to be done and open and ready to get back to normal."

The city says it will be making these grants available to other businesses in the future. If a construction project takes longer than 90 days to complete, and local businesses are suffering, the city will be offering the same deal.
    
The grant application will be available starting March 1st and businesses will have to prove a reduction in revenue .
    
$25,000 total has been approved by the City Council to be reallocated from the city's budget to go toward the grants.

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