Following success earlier this year, the Denison Development Alliance is expanding funding for businesses who are working to break into e-commerce during the ongoing pandemic.


The Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to dedicated $40,000 to ongoing grants aimed at assisting Denison businesses in creating an online retail platform.


In May, the economic developer announced the creation of a new e-commerce incentive grant. Following the first wave of businesses, the DDA is read to dedicate more resources to this effort.


"They started from scratch with no website, and no social media accounts or Instagram and they are switching over to full e-commerce," DDA Vice President William Myers said Thursday. "Some of them had a basis on line, but now all of them have a presence."


During its first round of grants, the DDA dedicated $60,000 toward the grant program using finds that were originally a part of the DDA’s marketing budget. Myers previously said the purpose was to help businesses add plug-ins, storefront programming or get access to other online platforms like GrubHub.


This would allow the businesses a way to maintain sales during a time of uncertainty for many businesses during a partial closure to the the pandemic.


"We want to promote Denison and promote businesses and we saw from this COVID(-19) action that the businesses that were the most resilient had an online presence and contactless payment functionality," Myers said in May.


During the initial phase, Myers said the DDA received 10 applications from businesses, including downtown staples like Pop Around the Corner and Monsters on Main.


Myers lauded Monsters on Main for fully embracing an online model and going from little online presence to a full storefront.


Following this success, Myers said he was approached by five additional businesses who were interested in a second round of grants. The majority of these grant seers were asking for about $6,000 to increase their online presence.


In addition to the attention it got from local businesses, Myers said the first phase also attracted the attention of Internet Domain Registrar GoDaddy, who is offering e-commerce coaching and other services to businesses that receive assistance.


Myers said that he hopes to work this additional assistance into the grant as a way of stretching the DDA’s dollar and assisting more businesses.


"It could be that instead of offering $6,000 this will be part of our match," he said.


In order to receive the funds, applicants must agree to pay 25 percent of the costs, Myers said. Like the first round, these additional funds will be coming from the unused portions of the DDA’s marketing budget.


"We don’t know how long this is going to go on. So, we can help more businesses to hopefully more get more resources in place," he said in May. "Once we get on the backside of this crisis, they will be stronger businesses.


"While hopefully this won’t happen again, if it does, we will have the resources in place to assist."


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.