Non-profit keeping Irmo Strong

Many cities and municipalities were facing challenging business environments that led to closures and cutbacks in the post-covid-crisis. The town of Irmo had a solution and came up with a program to help its local businesses.

Irmo, with a population of more than 13,000, recognizes that a healthy and growing business community means a healthy and growing town. On that simple premise the Irmo Future Growth Corporation, a 501©(3) non-profit, was created in coordination with the Irmo Town Council, Greater Irmo Chamber, and local business leaders to identify businesses adversely affected by the pandemic. The result is the creation of a $250,000 grant program to provide relief, hire more staff, and grow with the future economic expansion.

“The Town of Irmo operates without a millage,” Mayor Barry Walker said. “Our business community success is crucial to the growth of our Town. To offer this assistance after the year we just had is vital for the success of the business community.”

The initial funding was first approved by the Irmo Town Council, along with the application process and required forms and made available to the public. The applications, once received, are reviewed by their governing board grant committee and decisions are reached quickly. The entire process has been streamlined to better provide immediate relief to those businesses that have struggled during the pandemic.

The funding comes from a hospitality tax which is paid for by the restaurants many were recipients of the help. The original intention was for the funding to come from the American Rescue Plan Act funds. The Town of Irmo will receive 5 million in total from ARPA and has already received $2.5 million. The town depends on businesses and their fees to stay financially sound.

“These businesses have been investing in the Town of Irmo for decades,” said Councilman Kelly Busch. “By providing aid in their time of need we ensure our business community stays strong for decades to come.”

Recipients of funding from the Irmo Future Growth Corporation included Mathias Sandwich Shop, Leigh Essig Photography, Alodia’s Cucina Italiana, Classics Barbershop, Anna Cline Catering, Bistro on the Boulevard, Anytime Fitness, Anchor Lanes, Golden Wings, Elite Personal Training, Hemingway’s, After School Zone Academy, Linc, inc., Jackie’s Hair Design, Treasures, The Hair Co., Jazzy Hair Design, and Shear Indulgence.

Irmo’s development is exciting,” said Sam Mathias, owner of Mathias Sandwich Shop who received aid from the non-profit. “I hope we can maintain the balance between the small-town feel we love and the growth, both with the infrastructure and economically.”

“This is just the start of our plans to support and foster the businesses in the Town,” said Irmo Councilman Erik Sickinger, also a board member for the Irmo Future Growth Corporation. “Irmo is a business-friendly community, and we hope this is a bridge for more growth to come. We are thankful of the Mayor and Council’s vision and the Irmo Future Growth Corporation’s will to make it happen.”

Bill Danielson, the Chair of the Irmo Future Growth Corporation and Irmo Councilman, said, “This is an opportunity for the town to assist its small businesses during this terrible pandemic. We are not out of the woods yet, however, we are fighting back with our businesses to help stabilize the local economy.”