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Rebuild VA Program Aims to Get Small Businesses Back on Their Feet

Michael Pope

Governor Ralph Northam is hoping a grant program for small businesses will help them stay open and reorient themselves coming out of the pandemic.

When Governor Ralph Northam presented Breanna Perez with a check for $15,000 to help keep Smallcakes Cupcakery in Alexandria open for business, it was an emotional moment.

"Thank you so much for joining us, and I'm anxious to hear about your business," Northam said.

"Thank you. This is so much of a blessing. Oh my gosh. I bake cupcakes," Perez responded.

"Everybody loves cupcakes," Northam said.

"Everyone loves cupcakes, yes," replied Perez.

Perez says the pandemic was rough on her business and she struggled to stay open. Now she's receiving help from Rebuild Virginia, a grant program for small businesses that Governor Northam says can help people heal from the last year.

"You know, I'm a physician, and I can see when people are hurting. And I can also see when people are recovering, and just to see her emotions come through and her appreciation of what this means to her to help her get her business back," he says. "I don't know about anybody else but that's what gets me up in the morning and makes me want to do this job."

The Rebuild Virginia Economic Recovery Fund has awarded about $120 million to more than 3,000 small businesses across Virginia.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.