April 17, 2024 |

WASHINGTON, D.C., — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with American Express, today announced the opening of applications for a grant program to help small business owners recover from natural disasters. With support from the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, the first round of funding totaling $500,000 will be used to provide $5,000 each to Maui-based small businesses impacted by the catastrophic wildfires of August 2023. Eligible business owners can apply here for the Maui Small Business Recovery Grant Program starting today through May 1, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. HDT.

“These small business owners have suffered unimaginable loss – not just to their livelihoods but to their employees, families, and the entire community,” said Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “We’re proud to partner with American Express to offer much needed support to help businesses in Maui and throughout the U.S. recover following disasters.”

Helping small businesses that need it is a crucial piece to helping entire communities become more resilient. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation leads in building private sector resilience ahead of disasters and coordinates business efforts to assist communities to recover from complex emergencies both in the immediate and longer-term. According to the Hawaii Small Business Development Center, approximately 600 small businesses – half the number registered in the region before the fires – are still not operational.

“We are grateful for the support of American Express for making this grant program possible, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation for their strong partnership,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and chief executive officer of Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. “The wildfires had a devastating impact on our local businesses, especially those in the tourism and hospitality sectors. In addition to funding, our businesses need wrap-around support to emerge stronger than ever and that’s exactly what this program is designed to do. We look forward to working with our partners on Maui, such as the Maui Chamber and the LahainaTown Action Committee, to execute this critical relief for our local businesses.”

“An increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters globally has resulted in unexpected closures for small businesses. Our hope is that this program will support the Maui business community as it continues to recover from the effects of last year’s wildfires and, in the future,” said Jen Skyler, chief corporate affairs officer at American Express. “Together with our local partners, we aim to provide an important resource for small business owners to emerge stronger and build long-term resiliency against natural disasters with more sustainable solutions.”

Setting Businesses Up for Success Through Coaching

In collaboration with the Maui Chamber of Commerce and LahainaTown Action Committee, grantees will receive tailored guidance and tools to help their business recover in the face of economic challenges. Grantees must attend monthly sessions that are designed to equip them with strategies on how to rebuild and grow their business. These sessions will focus on how to build a more resilient business, including the role of disaster preparedness plans, informed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s educational resources.

How to Apply for a Grant and Eligibility

The program offers grants to eligible businesses who:

  • employ between three and twenty individuals (including owners),
  • have at least one physical or online business location in Maui (established on or prior to August 1, 2023),
  • have incurred financial loss due to the wildfires, and
  • have a related financial need.

Grants can be used for business expenses such as rent, utilities, payroll, inventory, equipment, marketing, infrastructure, and professional services. For more information on eligibility criteria, visit our website.

Businesses can apply online. The deadline to submit an application is May 1, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. HDT.

Partnering to Support Small Businesses

American Express and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation partner in different capacities to aid communities through grants to small businesses in the aftermath of natural disasters.

With support from American Express and other companies, the Readiness for Resiliency (R4R) Program is a multi-year initiative that empowers small businesses with the information they need to prepare for a disaster and then offers funding to those prepared businesses after a federal disaster declaration is made in their region. Small businesses can register for R4R here.

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