Storefront grants give East Side small businesses needed boost

SAGE grants ‘an answer to prayer,’ latest grant recipient says

SAGE has awarded $1.4 million to more than 150 small businesses on the East Side.

SAN ANTONIO – After the winter storm in February, Ruth Martin said her insurance company would only cover a portion of the damage to her small business. The rest was up to her.

Martin said she then remembered about the nonprofit, San Antonio for Growth on the East Side.

“Just like an answer to prayer,” Martin said about the help the nonprofit provided her.

Since 2010, SAGE has awarded $1.4 million to more than 150 small businesses, said Lindsey Logan, who oversees the storefront grant program.

Martin learned last week that her small business, My Place Barber and Beauty Salon in the 600 block of North New Braunfels, would be among the latest to receive a grant.

“The grant could not have come at a better time,” Martin said. “Lord knows I needed it in the worst, in the worst way.”

Martin said every pipe and gas line in her salon froze in the frigid storm. Even the cedar post foundation was flooded when the unprotected pipes beneath the building burst.

Martin said she is very grateful for the $7,000 grant she was awarded to cover the exterior damage, including the sign that fell under the weight of the snow and the handicapped ramp leading up to the shop.

The storefront grant program is city funded, so Martin said she’s also grateful to San Antonio taxpayers.

“I am glad to see our tax dollars being used to benefit the community,” Martin said.

Her business has been a fixture on the East Side for more than 40 years. During that time, Martin has given back to the community by offering free or low-cost haircuts for senior citizens and students, including those with special needs.

Martin said she believes the SAGE grant shows, “We put out good blessings and good blessings came back to us.”

Tuesdae Knight, president and CEO of SAGE, said, “There’s 2,500-plus businesses on the East Side, and that is what keeps this culture, this history of the East Side so special.”

Knight said the grants give small businesses, even churches that are considered nonprofit businesses, a needed boost to help them make it through.

Knight said the East Side is proud to have major businesses like the San Antonio Spurs and the Alamodome. But she said small businesses are the lifeblood of that area.

“It’s the thing that makes the East Side culturally rich, historically beautiful,” Knight said.

Logan said the storefront grants are awarded on the basis of need and a point system that help decide the amount that can range from $2,000 to $10,000.

She said the application cycle for the next round of grants will open up the first week in July. Information about the storefront grant program can be found on the SAGE website.

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.