Home improvement retailer increases its minority grant program by $5 million to $30 million and focuses additional $25 million donation on rural, hard-hit communities nationwide; pilots drive-in movie program at select stores to benefit local small business relief efforts
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – In response to the overwhelming need to help support small businesses across the country, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW) is announcing it is increasing its minority small business grants from $25 million to $30 million while donating an additional $25 million to its small business grant program with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), doubling the amount already committed. The additional funds will focus on rural communities, which have been hard hit by the pandemic. The total $55 million commitment makes Lowe’s the largest donor to LISC’s Small Business Relief & Recovery Program and COVID Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund.
Additionally, this summer, select Lowe’s stores in North Carolina and Georgia, will host drive-in movies to benefit local small business relief efforts for those impacted by COVID-19. For any donation made, Lowe’s will match two-to-one up to $50,000 to its grant program. Interested customers in these markets can reserve a spot or learn more about the drive-in movies at Lowes.com/DIY.
“Having grown up in a small town, I have first-hand knowledge of the extraordinary challenges small business owners in rural communities across the country face during the pandemic. We also remain committed to supporting minority small businesses that are being disproportionately impacted. Today’s announcement that we are increasing our minority grant commitment to $30 million while making an additional $25 million grant donation to rural communities reflects our commitment to double down on our small business grant program and is another step in putting actions behind our words to support all the communities we serve,” said Lowe’s President and CEO Marvin R. Ellison. “We cannot solve this need alone, and I encourage other companies to step up and make a difference in supporting small businesses, which are the cornerstone of our economy. Together, we can make a meaningful difference, especially for those in historically disinvested communities and areas hit hardest by COVID-19.”
Nationwide, 7.5 million small businesses may be at risk of closing permanently, according to a survey by Main Street America. Small businesses in rural communities often face even more hurdles than their urban counterparts due to limited access to bank credit, capital and other support services. For the purpose of these grants, rural communities will be defined based on the USDA Rural Development (RD) standard of a population with 50,000 or less. Without the resources, many of these businesses may permanently close, resulting in significant job loss to the area.
“This remarkable commitment from Lowe’s is a game changer for rural America, and as a someone who grew up in a small rural town, I know directly the impact this investment is going to make for the future of rural businesses, residents and communities,” said Maurice A. Jones, LISC president and CEO. “With it, we can help rural business owners sustain operations and protect jobs during the current crisis, while at the same time investing in sustainable growth throughout small towns, agricultural communities and coal country.”
These grants will provide immediate relief for critical needs such as rent, payroll and operational expenses to keep businesses running. The donation also helps connect both the applicants and grantees to a network of local small business development, support, advocacy and capital access organizations. These grant recipients will receive one year of technical assistance post-grant to help further ensure their survival over the longer-term.
LISC’s COVID-19 efforts continue to focus on support for small businesses and nonprofits led by women and minorities in economically vulnerable communities. For more on the LISC-Lowe’s partnership or to apply for a grant, visit LISC.org/lowes. – opens Monday July 27, 2020.