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Relief fund raising thousands to help Hamilton's downtown businesses

Posted at 2:49 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 16:49:31-04

Like many of Montana's cities and towns, Hamilton is hurting right now, with businesses closed, or greatly reduced because of COVID-19. But in true Bitterroot fashion, the community is pitching in, with a Hamilton Business Relief Fund.

Claire Kemp of the Hamilton Downtown Association and Hamilton City Planner Matthew Rohrbach quickly organized the Hamilton Business Relief Fund a couple of weeks ago, as the scope of the business shutdowns started to take shape.

"We sort of got together and said we have to do something. And we had our concerns about how to distribute, equity, and making sure that, you know, it was fair," Kemp said. "But we thought doing something rather than nothing was better right now. If we could even do a small part to keep our businesses from having too close down."

The fund has already raised nearly $11,000 toward a goal of $20,000 to help businesses with their immediate needs…

"Our hope is, you know, for those essential expenses, like rent, utilities, anything like that. And really anything. They just need cash right now," Kemp said.

The demand is great with Kemp saying at the first meeting assistance requests had already topped $15,000. But the community's generosity is making a difference.

"We gave every single business that asked between 20 and 50-percent of their requested amount. With the hope of giving them more if more money comes in," Kemp said.

With no clear indication on how long the virus disruption will last, the relief fund really won't solve the long term financial crunch, that will need to come from larger stimulus plans. But with that money just starting to move, this is a way to get by.

"We realize that really is absolutely the path they need to be following, but yeah, this is immediate assistance right now," Kemp told MTN News.

More than 73-donors have helped the Hamilton Business Relief Fund so far. The program isn't just limited to downtown Hamilton businesses. Click here for more information.