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New 'Shop In Utah' grant will give discounts to small business customers

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 20:50:10-04

SANDY, Utah -- A new state grant to help small businesses during the pandemic is designed to save customers money.

Half of the grant money must be used to offer discounts while the business uses the other half to make up for losses suffers since March.

“It’s not easy, it really has been difficult and it has been stressful,” said Rowena Montoya, JulieAnn Caramels owner.

For eight years, JulieAnn Caramels saw year over year growth up to 50 percent. Since March, sales dropped 30 percent.

“It has been really difficult to not keep people working. I have not taken a paycheck myself just to keep everything running,” said Montoya.

Montoya had to cut the number of employees by half. A federal grant helped JulieAnne’s stay open just two days a week.

Montoya hopes the state’s new “Shop In Utah” program can keep the caramels coming.

“We are having a tremendous amount of interest in this,” said Governor’s Office of Economic Development executive director Val Hale.

Twenty-five million dollars in federal CARES Act funds will give small businesses up to $50,000 each. The catch: half of the money must be used to cover customer discounts.

“The public benefits and the business benefits. It’s a win-win,” said Hale.

Montoya hopes the state grant money could entice new customers, enough to get her manufacturing equipment up and running, while hiring back her employees.

“We have grown a lot. I know that we can continue to grow if people would buy our product,” said Montoya.

The grant money will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.

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