Graham, Greenlee businesses get Local First Arizona grants

Gila Valley Central Photo. Extreme Martial Arts student Ashlyn Colvin demonstrates her technique with the bowstaff, an asian weapon.

THATCHER — Seven area businesses have benefited from a grant program developed by Local First Arizona.

The Small Business Relief Fund was established to help locally-owned small businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Local First Arizona raised more than $1 million and used those funds to help 400 businesses statewide.

The beneficiaries in Graham County were Precision Tile and Flooring, Extreme Martial Arts and Valley Auto Wrecking.

In Greenlee County, The Sammich Shop, Clifton Hotel, Jessica Aguilera Photography and the Simpson Hotel received grants.

“I did a top-to-bottom renovation of the 100-year-old building, and then set about making it into a sort of incubator for community projects as well as a rural stopover for travelers from around the world. Then came coronavirus and, like most hospitality businesses, we were crushed. Unlike others, we had no cushion, no savings and not very good credit. This gift, seemingly coming out of nowhere, lifted me out of despair and set me firmly on a new level of creative thinking about what lies ahead for The Simpson Hotel and for Duncan,” said owner Deborah Mendelsohn.

Exact dollar amounts to the businesses were not disclosed; however, grants ranged from $1,500 to $2,500.

In deciding which businesses would take priority for grant funding, Local First Arizona focused on businesses with three or fewer employees and less than $250,000 in annual revenue.

“Small businesses often only have about two weeks of capital reserves, and asking them to wait any longer for relief is unrealistic. While some have pivoted to online sales/curbside or inching into reopening, many have already closed, and getting back to pre-pandemic profits won’t be happening anytime soon. I’m in awe of our business community and local leaders who chose to invest in Arizona’s smallest businesses. I think there is a silver lining to all of this. We have learned these small businesses keep the Arizona economy running,” said Local First Arizona founder Kimber Lanning.

To learn more about the Small Business Relief Fund go to To make a contribution go to