Here's some business news in the Missoula area:
Flying Squirrel, an indoor trampoline park at 2501 Brooks Street Suite A in Missoula, has closed unexpectedly. The signs on the door are vague, saying only that the business has closed "temporarily." However, the 45,000-square-foot building is for lease according to the local Berkshire Hathaway Home Services website. It's listed for $15.75 per square foot, which is about $34,000 per month. A call to Flying Squirrel goes to voicemail, and the voicemail is full. Google hasn't even updated the business' hours to reflect that it's closed. The company last posted about an upcoming Christmas special on Dec. 6 on Facebook.
Pink Elephant, a used clothing exchange, has opened in downtown Missoula at 301 N. Higgins, the site of the old Green Light store. The business describes itself as dealing in sustainable, upcycled and vintage items for sale. They also buy from the public.
Missoula County commissioners recently approved distribution of $624,738 from the COVID-19 Small Business Job Retention Fund to 27 local businesses impacted by the pandemic to help them retain jobs for low- to moderate-income employees.
According to a press release from the county, of the grants awarded, 58% went to businesses in the food and drink industry, for a total distribution of $365,000. Twelve percent went to retail businesses, 10% to professional services, 10% to preschool/childcare, 6% to transportation and the remaining 4% to businesses in the lodging industry.
The 27 recipients experienced an average 45% decline in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic and had to lay off 158 employees. Without the grant funding, it is projected there would be another 166 layoffs in the first three months of 2021.
“Demand for the funds was overwhelming,” said Melissa Gordon, program manager for Grants and Community Programs. “While the county isn’t able to provide assistance to every business in need, I am hopeful the program will provide the support necessary for grant recipients to retain employment opportunities and stay afloat until the new federal assistance becomes available.”
In total, the county received 126 applications requesting $2.875 million in funding. The application portal opened at 9 a.m. Dec. 10, and it only took a few hours for the amount of funding requested to exceed the amount available. Applications were considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
The grants are supported through the Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, which are federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds intended to stimulate economic development by providing loans and/or grants to create or retain jobs for low- and moderate-income people. Low- to moderate-income is defined as individuals or families whose household income is up to 80% of the median income for the area when adjusted for family size.
"With the sunsetting of current state and federal COVID-19 assistance programs and the slow winter season just around the corner, commissioners allocated a portion of the available CDBG funds to provide working capital grants to help retain jobs and reduce the significant fiscal impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses and the Missoula workforce," said county spokesperson Allison Franz in an email.