Bittersweet Derby

Bittersweet was one of 12 Derby businesses recently approved to receive CARES funding through the Kansas Department of Commerce CDBG-CV grant program.

After being approved for Kansas Department of Commerce CDBG-CV funding (to help with COVID-19 expenses) nearly three months ago, the city of Derby announced last week that 12 local businesses were selected to receive those funds – totaling $132,000.

Derby businesses selected to receive grants included Bittersweet ($11,430), Dandelion Wine Design ($6,685), Derby Fit Body Boot Camp ($11,430), Derby Martial Arts Academy ($11,430), Gemstone Jewelers ($11,430), New Day Yoga ($11,430), Parrot House Exotics ($11,430), Perfect Petals Floral ($11,191), Sunflower Peaceful Massage ($11,254), Tails and Scales Pet Shop ($11,430), The UPS Store ($11,430) and Xtreme Tanning ($11,430).

The grant program was made available through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These specific grants were also intended to help local community businesses retain jobs for low-to-moderate income employees and cover capital expenses.

For consideration, Deputy City Manager Kiel Mangus noted businesses had to provide significant documentation showing they met the requirements of the CDBG-CV grant program, which Mangus said was not a problem in Derby.

In June, the city was awarded those funds to disperse, but Mangus said state approval was needed prior to officially giving out those grants. Knowing the importance of local businesses and the impact COVID-19 has had on them, Mangus noted those funds could do a lot of good.

“We want those businesses to succeed,” Mangus said. “There were a lot of mandates where people had to shut down. This kind of helps them cover some of their working capital expenses like inventory, wages and utilities. They weren’t able to bring in customers, but still had expenses.”

“It just humbles you that you’re getting helped by a city that cares that much about you,” said Bittersweet co-owner Susan Wise.

CDBG-CV grants were awarded in two rounds, with Derby included in the first and Mangus noting no entities from that round were granted additional funds.

Though that funding resource may no longer be available, Mangus said businesses are still able to directly apply for SPARKS (Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas) funds through the state. Development Manager Marcia Hartman continues to advertise those opportunities to the business community.

Additionally, the city of Derby was flagged to receive $484,460 from Sedgwick County’s pool of CARES funding that will go directly toward city-related COVID-19 expenses (personal protective equipment, disinfectant and cleaning supplies, etc.). Half of that is expected to be paid out soon, while Mangus said the other half is intended to be distributed as expenditures occur.

Mangus is part of Sedgwick County’s financial stimulus review team, too, so he is aware of the CARES funding that remains available. As the county seeks out other opportunities to distribute that funding, Mangus noted he is working to keep local businesses and organizations abreast of the situation.

“Our role is to make sure that we work with the county to try and make sure that word got out that the money is available,” Mangus said. “I would encourage the businesses out there that are still in need to look at the contact and communication we send out in our business newsletter monthly from the city because we try to put in information about opportunities for funding. Also, pay attention to Sedgwick County because Sedgwick County’s trying to distribute those CARES Act funds. They don’t want to send any of that money back; they want to utilize it.”