PHOENIX, May 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) recently contributed $25,000 to Local First Arizona to assist with grant funding for its Small Business Relief Fund (SBRF). This program provides immediate assistance to small businesses across Arizona that have been significantly impacted by the economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local First Arizona is the largest coalition of locally owned business in the country and represents more than 3,200 businesses across Arizona. As a longtime partner of the organization, BCBSAZ's contribution will expand Local First Arizona's ability to provide grants of up to $2,500 to small, family-owned businesses that are struggling to stay afloat after a significant decrease in business due to the global health emergency.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on every aspect of our lives. As we turn to recovery initiatives, we must not only look for ways to improve the physical and mental health of Arizonans, but also the economic conditions in our state," said Pam Kehaly, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. "Our grant funding for Local First Arizona's Small Business Relief Fund will help small, family-owned businesses get back on their feet. Together, we can nurture the vibrant, entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of our business community, bringing us one step closer to a healthier Arizona."
Grants provided through the SBRF are specifically designated for Arizona businesses with less than three employees and no more than $250,000 in annual gross revenues, many of which would not qualify for federal small business programs. Funding from the grant can be used for anything that owners need in the foreseeable future, including rent and payroll.
Through the SBRF program, Local First Arizona has distributed more than $750,000 to approximately 330 businesses, to date, and will continue providing grants as more funding becomes available. BCBSAZ's contribution will assist with funding for an additional 10-15 small businesses to help meet the demand of the more than 2,700 Arizona businesses that have applied for grants through the SBRF since it was established in March.
"Local First Arizona advocates for a strong local business community, and we know that many of these business owners are struggling to overcome the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 outbreak," said Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona. "We established the SBRF in hopes of coming together as a state to support those who need it most, and BCBSAZ's significant contribution will help us assist even more Arizonans."
This donation is the latest in a series of steps BCBSAZ has taken to support Arizonans during the COVID-19 pandemic. BCBSAZ is also providing financial assistance to organizations across the state to help increase testing and access to personal protective equipment, as well as those that help the most vulnerable Arizonans through food banks, homeless shelters, domestic violence facilities and other services.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) is committed to helping Arizonans get healthier faster and stay healthier longer. With a focus on connecting people with the care they need, BCBSAZ offers health insurance and related services to more than 1.7 million customers. Through advanced clinical programs and community outreach, BCBSAZ is inspiring health in Arizona. BCBSAZ, a not-for-profit company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The company, and its subsidiaries, employ more than 2,400 people in its Phoenix, Chandler, Flagstaff, and Tucson offices. To learn more, visit azblue.com.