In 2020, small businesses across the country were shutting down amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
For Reynoldsburg brothers Bryan and Terron Nelson, the timing worked out after they quit their jobs and decided in 2019 to operate a food truck.
“We were definitely concerned when things were getting shut down,” Bryan Nelson said. “But once they allowed food trucks to travel into neighborhoods, it actually gave us an uptick in business.”
Their success has grown as they were able to reach a larger audience, he said.
The Nelsons opened their first brick-and-mortar location last October inside the Eastside Brewing Co., 1421 Davidson Drive. More recently, it received one of the first grants provided by the city of Reynoldsburg to assist new or expanding businesses owned by minorities, women or veterans.
The Nelsons received $10,000, funding that will help them purchase new equipment such as an oven for pizza menu items or a walk-in cooler.
“It definitely gives us the option to expand our business,” Terron Nelson said. “Whether it’s adding new menu items or new equipment, it’s definitely going to help us expand.
“It was a journey to get here, but we’ve just stuck with the game plan. Everyone seems to be enjoying the food and business is definitely growing on a day-to-day basis.”
Reynoldsburg hopes to award as much as $200,000 through the Minority-Female-Veteran Grant Program by the end of this year, Mayor Joe Begeny said.
So far, three $10,000 grants have been awarded.
The other recipients are Donley Powerwashing and Landscaping, 875 Briard St.; and 1883 Locale at 7345 E. Main St., a venue for corporate events, parties or weddings.
“We still have about seven or eight applications out from last year’s applicants who have expressed interest of anywhere from $3,000 to a maximum of $10,000,” Begeny said. “We hope to receive more applications this year and have it advertised by August and then do another disbursement of funds for this year as well.”
To fund the grants, the city is using money from the America Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package Congress passed in 2021.
When City Council approved the grant program in 2021, the intent was “to lift up our community to build a more diverse Reynoldsburg,” according to the resolution approving the program.
“Reynoldsburg understands the financial obstacles placed on minority, female and veteran-owned businesses when first starting their new business,” the resolution states.
To be considered a minority-owned business, a company must be at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a minimum of one person whose ethnic background is at least 25% Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic or Native American, according to the city’s grant qualifications.
The same is true for women-owned businesses; a woman must lead the company’s day-to-day activities.
Veteran-owned businesses also must be at least 51% directed or unconditionally owned by one or more veterans or service-disabled veterans.
Applicants must explain how they will use the funds to make improvements to their businesses.