Washington Post | Entrepreneur Starts Fund To Help Va. Businesses Until Federal Aid Arrives

RICHMOND — A Northern Virginia technology entrepreneur and potential contender for governor has created a fund to help small businesses weather the coronavirus crisis until federal funds arrive.

Pete Snyder and his wife, Burson, have donated $100,000 in “seed money” to create the nonprofit Virginia 30 Day Fund, which is intended to help businesses meet payroll, preserve health-care coverage for workers and avoid layoffs while awaiting the federal aid expected to arrive in about a month.

The fund will provide up to $3,000 to each approved small business. Recipients do not have to repay the money, but if they eventually are in a position to do so, it will be directed to another qualified business.

Snyder said business and philanthropic leaders also are planning donations to the fund, which will “greatly expand” its reach.

“While the small-business assistance on its way from the Trump administration is crucial, it is clear that many need help to survive and retain their employees while they await that relief,” Snyder said.

Snyder, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 2013, has been publicly considering a run for governor in 2021. He said the fund has no connection to any political plans.

“This is a time for us to be helping each other,” he said. “There are other days for politics, but today is not one.”

The novel coronavirus had killed 52 Virginians as of Sunday, and it has wreaked havoc on an economy that last month boasted a 2.6 percent unemployment rate. Record numbers of people have filed jobless claims as Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a public health emergency and ordered residents to shelter at home, leading many businesses to shut down.

To apply to Snyder’s fund, a business must fill out a one-page form at va30dayfund.com and submit a video no more than three minutes long about the enterprise and its employees. Applications will be evaluated by volunteers with MBAs from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, as well as “some of the top business minds from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” Snyder said.

Businesses will get an answer in three days, he said, and those approved “can expect an immediate transfer of funds.” Qualifying businesses must be based in Virginia, have operated for at least a year, employ three to 30 people and be owned and operated by a Virginia resident.

Under the state constitution, Northam cannot seek back-to-back terms as governor. Typically the race for his replacement would be well underway, with the November 2021 election 19 months off. But potential contenders are maintaining low profiles as the commonwealth grapples with the public health and economic crises brought about by covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Only one Republican has formally entered the race: state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (Chesterfield), who announced in February. Likely Democratic contenders include former governor Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark R. Herring, state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (Richmond), Del. Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (Prince William) and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

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