Oxford donates to Community Foundation for small business relief

OXFORD Small businesses in the city will have better chances of receiving grant money to manage during the COVID-19 pandemic this week. 

The City Council voted to contribute $100,000 to the Small Business Relief Fund, a program of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, which provides grants up to $5,000 to eligible small businesses in Calhoun County. A stipulation on the donation requires that money be directed to Oxford businesses, narrowing the field of competition for grant money. 

“We just want to do what we can do to offer aid to small businesses and get them started back up,” said Chris Spurlin, council president, which will include expenses such as personal protective equipment purchases and other overhead costs. 

The deadline to apply is May 15 at 5 p.m. through the Community Foundation website at yourcommunityfirst.org/small-business-relief-fund. Awards are determined after that date and are not first-come, first-serve. 

The council also approved a one-time payment for first responders and other city employees discussed during the council’s last meeting. First responders will receive $250 and other city employees will receive $125 for their work during the pandemic. 

During the prior meeting, Spurlin said it was a way of thanking selfless employees, who have kept city offices active, and first responders, who have worked to keep the public safe. 

During its meeting, the City Council also: 

— Accepted a bid from Mosca Design, a Raleigh, N.C., company, to provide Christmas lights and decorations for the next Festival of Lights for a total of $712,896.58. 

— Voted to condemn buildings at 25 Main Street and 129 Williamson Ave. for conditions deemed unsafe by the city building department. 

— Approved participation in the state back-to-school sales tax holiday July 17-19. 

— Renewed a contract with Avenu Insights and Analytics, a company based in Centreville, Va., for work on gas tax revenue administration and business license discovery and recovery administration, an agreement that has saved the city money it otherwise would have lost to non-payment of license fees, according to Spurlin. 

— Agreed to fund “Images of America: Oxford,” a book of images and narratives chronicling the history of the city, published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press. The project will cost just over $3,400, with 100 copies apiece available to purchase from the Oxford Performing Arts Center, the Oxford Public Library and Main Street Oxford, at a price of $21.99 to consumers. 

— Allowed the mayor to enter an agreement with Grizzard Surveying to survey 2.6 acres of property just north of Hickory Lane, along a side street from Edith Avenue that connects to C.E. Hanna Elementary. The land connects to school property, according to council discussion.