SHARON — A new series of grants announced this holiday season will help Sharon businesses improve their online presence and security.
The two grant programs for websites and security technology were announced Thursday by the city of Sharon. They will be open to applications through Jan. 31.
There are up to 25 grants available for websites and up to 40 grants available for security technology, according to a press release.
For the website grants, selected businesses will have the chance to become more tech-savvy while developing their own personalized website, instead of relying on pages created on social media.
Sharon Downtown Development Coordinator Sherris Moreira said this can help owners grow their businesses and tech-awareness, since pages on existing websites like Facebook are more “borrowed property” that can be taken away or shut down.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many businesses to close or operate at reduced capacity, also illustrated the need for businesses to be able to conduct commerce electronically in certain situations.
“We’re looking at the long-term with this, because having a website is like having a virtual property that you can use to sell and promote your business,” Moreira said.
As for the security grant, this could be put toward physical equipment, such as a new security camera, or for something virtual, like cyber security.
Like the website grant, the technology grant will emphasize educating the selected businesses and increasing their technological awareness, Moreira said.
“At this point, a virtual presence is almost mandatory, but it also gives businesses another way of protecting their investment,” Moreira said.
The grants are funded by the Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The website funds come from CDBG COVID allocations approved in 2021 by Sharon City Council, Sharon CDBG Program Manager Suzanne Kepple said. The security tech grant comes from economic development funding for micro-enterprises.
The funds for the website grant are for small businesses, defined by HUD as less than 500 employees for most categories. Micro-enterprises mean five employees or less, including the owner, regarding the security tech grant.
This program was created collaboratively when the Downtown Development team reported back information to Kepple that they received from their interactions with the Sharon business community that helped identify business needs.
“This funding will help support businesses in the Sharon community, supplement workplace safety and help protect their investment,” said City Manager Bob Fiscus.
Fiscus added that he’s pleased about providing more support for the Sharon business community in general.
“I’m happy that the city can assist our businesses, to help them with their ability to grow and be sustainable,” Fiscus said.
More information can be found at the city’s website, www.cityofsharon.net, under “Community Development and Public Notices.” The grants will also be posted to Sharon’s social media sites. For additional details, contact Kepple at [email protected], or 724-983-3231, or Moreira at [email protected].
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