‘Host program’ providing more than $1 million in relief for struggling businesses through pandemic

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Host Program was created at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to help businesses stay afloat. Nearly four months later the program has raised more than a million dollars.

The program was started by Scott Hunsicker and Lance Sparks.

They said they wanted to help small businesses make it through the pandemic.

“It’s not easy to succeed at a small business, it’s not easy to maintain a small business. Throw a pandemic into the mix of it makes it even that much harder,” Matt Pivarnik, CEO of Go Topeka, said.

People in the community donated to the program and raised more than $700,000.

That money was then used to buy gift cards from struggling businesses.

To give back to even more people affected by the pandemic, those gift cards were then given to people in the community who needed them.

“People that have been laid off, people that have been furloughed, people that have lost their jobs. Displaced workers,” Pivarnik said.

JEDO, a local organization that focuses on economic development, also donated $1 million of tax money to the program.

Senior VP of Entrepreneurial and Minority Business Development for Go Topeka, Glenda Washington, said that money went into a relief grant run by GTP.

“We love our small businesses here in Topeka and Shawnee county and we will do what we can to make sure that at the end of the day you are made whole, you will survive and this time next year we will have a celebration,” Washington said.

The Host Program also donated over $40,000 in gift cards to first responder agencies in Shawnee County as a thank you for their service throughout the pandemic.

The Greater Topeka Partnership’s relief grant still has about $500,000 to give away to businesses and are looking for applicants now.

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