WOLFEBORO — While there has been a lot of bad news recently when it comes to businesses and the economy, the Wentworth Economic Development Corp., Inc. (WEDCO) has some good news for local businesses.

WEDCO recently closed on a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program Technical Assistance Grant, which will allow small businesses in the WEDCO service area to apply for funds for enhanced business technical assistance.

For WEDCO Executive Director Denise Roy-Palmer, it’s a nice bit of news for businesses who may be struggling through the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

“Businesses are trying to think of different ways to do business,” said Roy-Palmer. “It’s not a huge sum of money, but it can make some positive changes. We’re fortunate to have that available.”

Many businesses have been forced to make adjustments in the time of the pandemic and this grant program is a way to help. Ironically, the entire program started long before anyone was thinking of a time when restaurants would be forced to get by on only takeout and businesses would be allowing only a certain number of people through the doors if they were open at all.  “When we started the application process in September, we never knew we’d be hit by Corona,” Roy-Palmer said. “This works out well with people having to change the way they do business.”

Businesses who have 10 or fewer full-time employees are eligible to apply for the grant, which has a maximum request of $2,500. Grant requests could include QuickBooks software, setup, training and support or web site design and development or online marketing services and training or workshops and webinars. Applications will be evaluated based on the quality and content of the project narrative, budget and work plan. Submissions should focus on how this grant would assist the business achieve its goals as described in the narrative, as well as the sustainability and projected growth associated with these granted funds. Applications will be evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Roy-Palmer also pointed out that WEDCO would be working with local business Leone, McDonnell and Roberts to provide some help with QuickBooks for local businesses. In collaboration with the accounting firm, WEDCO will provide QuickBooks assistance to 15 startups or existing businesses. This grant will cover the cost of the software with a three-year license, general ledger and opening balance set-up, memorized transactions and reports where needed, training clients on basic data entry and reconciliations and assistance for one year (quarterly, monthly. or a mixture of both).

“We believe this will be a tremendous benefit for new businesses,” Roy-Palmer said. Other ways that the grant could help local businesses could be through online marketing, such as setting up a website, improving an existing web site or other online activities that businesses have had to adjust with the pandemic situation.

Additionally, WEDCO also has the opportunity to offer a Rural Microloan Revolving Fund (RMRF) loan. The primary goal of this loan is to help microenterprises start up and grow. Loans can be used for working capital, debt refinancing, purchasing equipment and supplies as well as improving real estate. RMRF loans are up to $50,000 with a fixed interest rate and business must have 10 or fewer full-time employees.

“There is a great program, something out there for businesses and we want to utilize it,” Roy-Palmer said.

WEDCO’s service area includes Brookfield, Effingham, Farmington, Milton, Middleton,Moultonborough, New Durham, Sandwich, Tuftonboro, Wakefield, Wolfeboro and the surrounding communities.

Anyone looking for more information can visit WEDCO’s web site at wedco-nh.org/grants where the grant and loan applications are available. WEDCO’s office is located on 15 Varney Road in Wolfeboro and also can be reached at 569-4216 or email: tagrants@wedco-nh.org