Region Ahead passes out first round of Local Business Recovery Fund grant checks


ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – Some Southwest Virginia small business owners got a financial boost on Friday.

News Channel 11 was on hand as Region Ahead passed out its first round of Local Business Recovery Fund checks in Abingdon.

The recipients for the first round of checks are Abingdon Vineyards, The Gallery @ Barr Photographics, Homeslice Cafe & Catering, Catering by Catherine, Advantage Supply Center, Inc. and Play Date DBA Play Now.

The Gallery @ Barr Photographics recently reopened after nearly 2 months being closed due to COVID-19.

“Since the 15th of May, there has been very little traffic coming through and business has been almost zero,” said R. Dunn Barr, proprietor for The Gallery @ Barr Photographics.

Barr said he applied to the Region Ahead Local Recovery Fund because his gallery was not eligible for PPP.

“Without that I was up against the wall, so now I have a fighting change for another month of trying to make ends meet and I really want to express my gratitude for that,” he said.

Abingdon Vineyards saw its business model change overnight.

“We did 95 percent of our business through the tasting room,” said Elizabeth Gardner, owner of Abingdon Vineyards, “so having the tasting room closed for a few months was very, very challenging.”

Gardner said they are very grateful for the support.

Meanwhile, Catherine Elliott’s business, Catering by Catherine, was also impacted. She said the funds came at the right time.

“I’m learning lessons lately in humility and gratitude, the depths of which I’ve never known before,” said Elliott. “The timing of it was perfect, it’s like the universe lined up to make this happen.”

Six businesses received checks on Friday. Region Ahead organizer Andy Dietrich said right now, more than $230,000 has been raised for the recovery fund.

“These local businesses in our region that have been struggling so much are the backbone to our region and we got to prop them up until this thing passes,” said Dietrich.

In all, $98,650 in grant checks will be presented to 22 companies with $56,000 to Virginia companies and $42,650 going to companies in Northeast Tennessee.

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