The Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer has committed another $25 million to its small-business grant program with Local Initiatives Support Corp. — doubling its initial commitment. It has also donated $5 million more to its minority small-business program for a total of $30 million.
In total, Lowe’s has donated $55 million since the COVID-19 crisis began. That makes it the largest donor to LISC’s Small Business Relief & Recovery Program and COVID Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund.
"Having grown up in a small town, I have first-hand knowledge of the extraordinary challenges small business owners in rural communities across the country face during the pandemic. We also remain committed to supporting minority small businesses that are being disproportionately impacted. Today's announcement that we are increasing our minority grant commitment to $30 million while making an additional $25 million grant donation to rural communities reflects our commitment to double down on our small business grant program and is another step in putting actions behind our words to support all the communities we serve," said Lowe's President and CEO Marvin R. Ellison. "We cannot solve this need alone, and I encourage other companies to step up and make a difference in supporting small businesses, which are the cornerstone of our economy. Together, we can make a meaningful difference, especially for those in historically disinvested communities and areas hit hardest by COVID-19."
The move from Lowe's comes at a time of massive crisis and economic volatility in the U.S., especially in rural areas. More than 7.5 million small businesses may be at risk of closing permanently, according to a survey by Main Street America. Small businesses in rural communities often face even more hurdles than their urban counterparts due to limited access to bank credit, capital and other support services. Without resources, many of these businesses may permanently close, resulting in significant job loss to the area. For the purpose of these grants, Lowe's defines rural communities based on the USDA Rural Development (RD) standard of a population with 50,000 or less.
Lowe's was in the middle of a turnaround plan when the pandemic struck. Since then the company has worked to ramp up digital efforts, manage supply chain challenges, increase safety measures and boost worker pay. Earlier this month the company joined CVS Health and other retailers in supporting the launch of a new media brand called the Black Information Network.
Additionally, this summer Lowe's stores in North Carolina and Georgia will host drive-in movies to benefit local small business relief efforts for those impacted by COVID-19. For any donation made, Lowe's will match two-to-one up to $50,000 to its grant program.
"This remarkable commitment from Lowe's is a game changer for rural America, and as a someone who grew up in a small rural town, I know directly the impact this investment is going to make for the future of rural businesses, residents and communities," said Maurice A. Jones, LISC president and CEO. "With it, we can help rural business owners sustain operations and protect jobs during the current crisis, while at the same time investing in sustainable growth throughout small towns, agricultural communities and coal country."
Lowe's operates more than 2,200 home improvement and hardware stores and employs approximately 300,000 associates.