By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 5/6/20
In an effort to continue offering grants for local businesses struggling during the COVID- 19 pandemic, Harrisonburg and Rockingham County have joined together to offer a “Rock Strong” T-shirt fundraiser to raise money for the Resilience Grant Fund.
In March, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce was formed to coordinate resources for local businesses. In early April, the task force awarded 25 grants totaling $65,000 to small businesses — compared to the 100 applications the program received from businesses seeking more than $400,000 in assistance.
“The demand was overwhelming,” said Peirce Macgill, assistant director of economic development for the city of Harrisonburg.
In an attempt to meet the high demand, Macgill came up with the T-shirt campaign to raise funds for the grant program.
“It really just came up from what are new ways to help ... how we can raise more money for the grant fund,” he said.
Macgill worked with the local business task force, which is made up of members of the Harrisonburg- Rockingham Chamber of
Commerce, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, and Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, along with the city of Harrisonburg Economic Development Department and the Rockingham County Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
The task force decided to sell two different styles of T- shirts, both displaying “ Rock Strong,” the Rockingham County Courthouse and Massanutten.
“[ The T- shirts] represented both community spirit and helping the community,” Macgill said. “It’s a good way to show community pride and be something people would want.”
And while T-shirt sales will go toward supporting local businesses, they also benefit Collegiate Customs, located off South Main Street, as Macgill has coordinated with the business to produce the T-shirts.
Josh Gooden, the economic development and tourism coordinator for the county, said the expense of the T-shirts comes out of the sale price, making it so that no cost is incurred by members of the task force.
T- shirts are being sold for $25, with all remaining funds going to the grant program, said Gooden. A discount is available for orders of 10 or more.
As of Tuesday, Gooden said more than 50 T-shirts had been ordered, and the deadline to order is Sunday by 11 p.m.
“It’s for a limited time, so jump on it now,” Macgill said. “We are taking orders for 10 days and that will be how many shirts we make. The more we get, the more goes toward the fund.” Gooden said that if an outpouring of orders come in, it’s possible the task force will open up for a second wave of ordering, but to guarantee a T-shirt, ordering prior to Sunday is ideal.
“This project shows how collaboration in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County come as second nature to us and we are very fortunate to get together with the city, county, chamber of commerce, small business development center, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and Shenandoah Valley Partnership to support our small businesses,” Gooden said.
Orders can be placed through the Collegiate Customs website.
“A lot of people ask, ‘How can I help?’” Macgill said. “This is a way to show support for small businesses.”