Local fund raises thousands for Broad Ripple businesses, service employees

Thousands of dollars have poured in to Broad Ripple in recent days through a new fund aimed at helping retail shops and restaurants—and their employees—that had to alter their business strategies because of COVID-19.

The ‘Rona Relief Fund (a shorthand nod to the coronavirus) has raised at least $9,450 since launching Friday morning. The Broad Ripple Village Association-managed fund allows individuals and businesses to nominate themselves or others as recipients.

Colleen Fanning, executive director of the BRVA, said the fund could go a long way for employees and businesses that are struggling to make ends meet.

“It was important to us to address the immediate revenue concerns for the small businesses in our area,” she said. “It’s something that can help tide them over.”

The pool of money will be split evenly, between $100 checks for service employees in need and gift cards bought from the area’s restaurants and retailers. The purchase of gift cards has been recommended nationwide as a means to support small businesses, because it provides revenue for businesses immediately, while allowing customers to cash in later on.

The idea for a fund was suggested by executives from multiple Broad Ripple-based firms, including PactSafe, Boardable, Covideo and InnovateMap—each of which contributed $1,000 as part of its launch—earlier this week.

Fanning said five other companies have each contributed $1,000 to the fund since Tuesday: Brooksource, EightEleven Group, Keystone Corp., River House and Tomato Fish. The rest has come from individual donations.

She said she is hopeful the fund will become self-sustaining as it continues receiving donations from businesses and individuals with the financial means to chip in.

Many Broad Ripple businesses have managed to adapt to the situation that followed Gov. Eric Holcomb’s March 16 order for restaurants to limit service to carryout and delivery for the foreseeable future, she said.

Several restaurants are promoting carryout options, while small retailers—hoping to promote social distancing—have adopted online shopping models with curbside service and deliveries, or are opening by appointment.

“It’s amazing what these business owners are doing,” Fanning said. “They’re being incredibly creative and innovative. I would say Broad Ripple is the opposite of ‘shut down’—it just looks a lot different than it did a few weeks ago.”

The ‘Rona Relief Fund is likely to expand in the coming weeks as the BRVA works closely with Midtown Indy to incorporate other neighborhoods in the area into the support area. Fanning said she is hopeful the program will eventually reach the rest of Marion County.

“I think of it as a win-win,” Fanning said. “It’s a good structure, but we wanted to kind of pilot the Broad Ripple program before extending to Midtown and, maybe even across the rest of the city.”

Fanning noted the money to businesses is tax deductible, and the nomination form on the BRVA’s website makes the process more transparent.

“I could see this going citywide,” she said. “I think this is a really good model.”

For more information about the fund, or to contribute, visit the Broad Ripple website.

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