KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) — A major opportunity for economic help is coming to Ken-Ton. The Kenmore-Tonawanda Chamber of Commerce is about to make a lot of ‘American Rescue Plan’ money available to local businesses.

The idea here is to help businesses with smaller staffs with a new grant program.

Ken-Ton will open an online application process next week for eligible businesses.

In Kenmore, right in the heart of the business strip, Hammer & Stain is still working on pandemic recovery.

Owner Karen D’Arcy opened her doors just before everything shut down.

“It was rough, it was rough. My doors closed two weeks after we opened, which really didn’t help us connect with the community, let people know that we were even here,” D’Arcy said.

Her business is so new that she hasn’t been eligible for any of the other grant programs, until now.

Ken-Ton got $2 million from the American Rescue Plan and is putting that to work by allowing businesses with fewer than 20 employees to apply for up to $5,000. This time, Hammer & Stain will finally qualify.

“It’s so helpful, and I think it will go a long way, and it’s just kind of determining what to use it for, whether it’s advertising, or some new equipment, or things like that,” D’Arcy added.

In Tonawanda, Mitchell’s Tavern on Sheridan Drive has faced the same hardships as the rest of the restaurant industry.

“It was the toughest year and a half of my life,” Nicolaos Christou Jr., President of Mitchell’s said. “We stayed open the whole time, but it was a very tough moment in time. It really was.”

Mitchell’s is operating normally now with a recently renovated patio to boot. But the maintenance costs don’t stop.

Christou has fewer than 20 staff members and sees how this grant money can help.

“I would definitely apply. It’s a great opportunity for small businesses like myself. I’m very excited for it,” Christou added.

So eligible businesses can start applying a little over a week from now. The chamber is planning to put out any other remaining details this coming Tuesday.