2 local businesses receive Duke grants

By Mandy Underwood

Grow Wabash County has received $5,000 in grant funding from Duke Energy’s Economic Development Relief Grant program

The $5,000 grant will be administered by Grow Wabash County to two Wabash County businesses that have gone above and beyond during this pandemic to serve their community despite financial challenges.

The grant funds will allow for both of these businesses to pay for expenses incurred due to COVID-19 and its resulting restrictions such as operating costs (payroll, debt relief, etc.), assistance in navigating state and federal programs and/or technology needs to remain connected with their clients, customers and community at large.

In Wabash, the grant will be awarded to Cannonball Lanes in recognition of owner Cindy Solloway’s efforts to make and donate face masks.

Solloway became one of the leaders of the “Wabash Strong” Facebook group that has made and donated dozens of masks to essential employees in Wabash County.

She discussed what this experience has been like for her along with what receiving these funds means to her and her efforts with The Paper of Wabash County.

“Jennifer Simpson started the Facebook group and I joined in,” Solloway said. “Jennifer and I were new to sewing but we wanted to help in some way. So, I did a search on how to make the masks, went out and bought a sewing machine and got started.

“Most of the people that make the masks drop them off to me at the bowling alley or to Jennifer at Rick's Auto. From there we deliver them to the groups that have asked for them.

Solloway said that receiving these funds is helpful, and they will continue to do what they are doing to help the community.

“All of the masks we are making, the materials have been donated or paid for out of our own pocket. So, we will continue to make masks as we have been doing.”

Webb’s Family Pharmacy in North Manchester will also receive a grant for its innovative actions to fill community needs throughout the pandemic. Not only has the compounding pharmacy provided access to necessary medications and prescriptions to its customers, but it has also become a source for critically needed personal protective equipment (PPE).

Owner Harry Webb and store manager, Yi Yang, were able to successfully coordinate with Chinese PPE producers to increase local access to PPE.

The compounding pharmacy has also been making its own hand sanitizer to sell during the pandemic when quality antibacterial products like this have become hard to find.

Webb intends to use the grant funds from Duke Energy to purchase more materials to make hand sanitizer as well as purchase more PPE so that he can donate both to essential businesses and employees that need it.

“We are going to start making sanitizer sometime this week,” Webb's Pharmacy representative Jo Music said. “That will get one person per family a five-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer and either a package of 10 surgical masks or two n95 masks.”

Webb's Pharmacy will only be handing out 125 “transactions,” but as donations come in, they will continue the process.

“Some local businesses have said they would like to donate,” Music said. “We are also asking anyone who receives the sanitizer and masks to donate if they can. As long as donations come in, we will be able to continue making more sanitizer.”

“Duke Energy and the Duke Energy Foundation continue to be fantastic partners for Grow Wabash County and our entire community,” said Keith Gillenwater, president & CEO of Grow Wabash County. “Providing these funds to allow us to honor two businesses who have been both uniquely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but have gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide services to the community in a time of need is what being an ‘essential’ business is all about in every sense of the word. We are thrilled to award these grants to Webb’s Pharmacy and Cannonball Lanes.”

Posted on 2020 May 12