PCDC Digital Development Grants Give Boost to New, Existing Businesses

PCDC Digital Development Grants Give Boost to New, Existing Businesses Main Photo

19 Aug 2020

PCDC has awarded grants to 15 Phelps County businesses to help launch or step up their game in the digital world.

The grants were announced in March as part of a larger economic stimulus package related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Phelps County retailers, restaurants, hospitality and service could apply for up to $1,000 grants to create a website or online store, advertise an online store, purchase point-of-sale software or become a member of GROW Nebraska or the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce.

Brandon Smith, owner of the new Holdrege PT, said it has been challenging to open a new business during the pandemic. He opened the doors to his new physical therapy and sports rehab business on August 3 in the Johnson Building in downtown Holdrege.

“When we started this process, I felt that by August the pandemic would be pretty well contained and things would be back to normal,” Smith said. “I think we were all very hopeful. It hasn't turned out that way.”

A digital development grant from PCDC has helped.

“The PCDC digital development grant has enabled us to launch our website (http://holdregept.com/) and advertise on Facebook, radio station 96.9 and in newspapers,” Smith said. “This enabled us to reach a lot of people around Phelps County. We have already had many positive reviews from patients and support from the community. We have had someone say they heard about us from each of the areas we advertised on.”

PCDC also awarded digital development grants to Ashley Brock to help launch two new businesses this summer: The Crystal Leaf and Serenity Studios. With that grant, Brock purchased a point-of-sale system and joined the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce and GROW Nebraska.

“Having those grant funds to establish that first year of membership in both of those wonderful organizations has been incredible,” Brock said.

The Crystal Leaf sells teas and other healing products, and Serenity Studios is where Brock provides music instruction.

Jennifer Weber, owner of Pretty and Fabulous in Bertrand, was one of the first business owners to apply for and receive a PCDC digital development grant. Because of the time demands involved in being a business owner, Jennifer had been putting off much-needed improvements to her website.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, having her products on her website became a bigger priority. The PCDC grant allowed her to make those improvements.

“I wanted to make updates to my website,” Weber said. “Getting that grant gave me the funding to pay someone to do it.”

Weber has been in business since 2012 and has operated out of a storefront in downtown Bertrand since 2017. She creates unique t-shirts, offers custom t-shirt designs, screen printing and other types of printing on cups, mugs, phone cases, etc. She also consigns products such as clothes, candles, distressed furniture and gifts from her boutique.

Weber used a portion of the grant to join the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce to support the local business community and to benefit from chamber e-mail blasts and being listed on the chamber’s website.

The grant also encouraged businesses to join GROW Nebraska, which Weber also did. GROW Nebraska is a non-profit organization that helps Nebraska businesses through training, technical assistance, promotion and access to markets.

Weber has already participated in GROW trainings and is looking forward to learning more about SEO rankings and how to improve her digital presence and reach a wider audience with GROW’s help.

Visit her website at https://prettyandfabulous.mybigcommerce.com/

Other Phelps County businesses that received digital development grants are Gifts & Things, The Drawer, The Salon Experience, Mystic Images, Divine Boutique, The 308 Boutique, Holdrege Golf Carts, Sky Dive Atlas, Lost Way Brewery, The Sail Inn and Diamond Exterminating.

As of mid-August, PCDC had more than $2,000 left in the digital development grant fund. To apply for a grant, business owners should contact Stacy Pafford at Stacy@PhelpsCountyNE.com or (308) 995-4148.