PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Earlier this year, the City of Petersburg announced a new business assistance grant program aimed to help local small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The city received over 200 applicants and awarded grants to more than 70 businesses. Ignatius Creegan of Ignatius Hats on Sycamore Street was one of the recipients.

“This will help a lot,” explained Creegan.

Creegan has been in business of over 35 years and says he loves to be able to make others feel good. That’s why he decided to create and sell hats for a living.

“I believe hats establish character. You can come in and try on 100 hats and stay in a good mood the entire time,” Creegan said.

Ignatius Hats received $1,500 through the program. For Creegan the money arrived right on time.

“I am going to use the money for some building improvements and I do want to buy a collection of felt for this fall season,” he explained. “We were just falling a little short on the money we needed to buy felt. That’s going to be very important.”

Deputy Manager of the City of Petersurg Darnetta Tyus said her community deserved these resources during such a challenging time.

“We needed to do something that shows support for our small businesses that have been hit so hard by the coronavirus.”

Tyus says after looking over the applications they realized a trend. Half of the businesses funded are minority-owned businesses and two-thirds are owned by women.

Tyus mentions they are helping everyone in the Petersburg area.

“We are grateful to have helped businesses in every ward of the city,” Tyus said.

She also says another round of aid is on its way within the next few months.