The start-up organizations will use the funding to bring in, expand business in Historic Downtown
This week, the City of Killeen invited three recipients of the American Rescue Plan Act Downtown Start-Up Grants to City Hall to sign contracts for their grants.
The recipients present were Antonia Ringgold with Space Create, Sharon Hines with Twice as Funny Comedy Lounge and Chris Tootle with Braids and Brows by Chris. Four more businesses (Let’s Eat Texas, Khaniesiology, Aromas Cigar Lounge and Rincon de Panama) are scheduled to sign contracts on future dates. In all the seven recipients were awarded grants totaling a combined $965,812.
“The Downtown Killeen Start-Up Grants have allowed local businesses and entrepreneurs to dream of what is possible in our downtown,” said Kate Kizito, The City of Killeen’s Downtown Revitalization Director. “I am excited to see established businesses like Rincon de Panama use these funds to renovate, and Let’s Eat Texas use the grant to reopen their dining room after COVID-19 shut it down. Still, I am most excited to see five new businesses renovate and reactivate currently vacant buildings downtown.”
The three businesses that signed contracts on Aug. 29 were all excited to develop business in downtown.
“Space Create is an answer to a need in our community, a need for creatives to have a space with state-of-the-art equipment and spaces in their back yard,” Ringgold said of her business, which was granted $128,578 and will focus on cultivating musical talent. “Creatives in our community deserve to have a space for cultivating and enriching their skills and talents without leaving to places like Austin and Dallas.”
Hines said she created her business, Twice As Funny, which was granted $306,000, because she saw a need in our community for entertainment.
“I think Killeen is long overdue for a place like this downtown,” Hines said. “I believe comedy brings the community together; it doesn't matter, all backgrounds, everybody.”
Tootle said she has been braiding since she was 16 and when COVID-19 struck, it was the best way for her to support her family as a single mom who is also a disabled veteran. Her business was granted $19,781.
“Unfortunately, a lot of places that are hiring say they support veterans or people with disabilities,” Tootle said. “Still, they are unwilling to help us when we need it. So, starting my business was important not only for me, but those who are going to be working in Braids and Brows that are also looking for a safe place to work and support their families.”
The American Rescue Plan Act was enacted by President Joe Biden in 2021 as an economic stimulus bill to provide emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses so they can rehire and retain workers and purchase the health and sanitation equipment they need to keep workers safe.