Gordon Square’s Fast Forward fund keeps rolling with grants for small businessses

The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) Fast Forward Fund—a $50,000 matching crowdfunding campaign designed to help Gordon Square businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic—continues to help local businesses that have been struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.


The Fast Forward Fund has now raised $55,474 in donations—half of it from anonymous local donations—to help 19 Gordon Square businesses. The grants are earmarked for expenses and adaptations needed to respond to COVID-19.


The organization launched the campaign in late June and within one month, had raised almost $27,000 through its GoFundMe campaign and thee anonymous donors. In that first month the DSCDO received 15 grant applications and assisted six businesses, according to DSCDO’s marketing director Joshua Jones.


Hillary Gent, owner of HEDGE Gallery in 78th Street Studios, 1300 W. 78th St., is one of the latest recipients of Fast Forward Fund grant money—receiving $3,000 to keep her gallery open.


“I am beyond grateful,” said Hillary Gent in a statement. “As an art- and event-related business, this has been the strangest time to attempt to run a business. Some days are full of positive energy and new ideas, but others can be very depressing.”


Gent goes on to say that the generosity of donors gives her renewed hope as an entrepreneur. Other grant recipients include Toast and Ninja City—both of which plan to purchase heaters to extend their patio seasons—and Love Threading Bar, an Egyptian- and woman-owned salon, which used a $2,000 grant to rehire and protect employees.


“This rallying of support by nearly 140 donors has kept many of our beloved businesses operational,” said Jessica Trivisonno, DSCDO’s director of economic development, in a statement. “But we have nearly depleted our available funds and will need to keep raising if we want to support additional businesses in need.”


Donations to the fund are still being accepted, and the anonymous donors will double each donation until the total amount raised exceeds $100,000.


The anonymous donors are longtime advocates for Cleveland neighborhoods and its residents. In addition to community members, other donors have included PNC Bank, Platform Beer Co., and Ohio CDC Association.


Ten percent of all funds raised are reserved as start-up capital for new minority-owned businesses looking to open in vacant storefronts in Gordon Square, to continuing growing the number of businesses owned by women and people of color.


Existing and independently owned storefront, retail, and non-profit establishments in Gordon Square with 30 or fewer employees can apply for grants ranging from $500 to $5,000. The anonymous donors will continue the match community donations, dollar-for-dollar, until the fund exceeds $100,000.


To receive funding, applicants must explain how COVID-19 has impacted their revenue and how grant funds will enable them to pay operational expenses or adjust their business model. Businesses who do not receive grants in an initial round will be automatically reconsidered in subsequent rounds.


Interested business owners should contact Trivisonno, (216) 961-4242, ext. 302.

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