EARLY — Three City of Early officials took to video to encourage Early residents and announce two new programs to help businesses.

One program is the Small Business Support Grant from the Early Municipal Development District for businesses affected by COVID-19.

The other is known as Operation HUB (Helping Unite Businesses), in which the Early Convention and Visitors Bureau will purchase gift cards from Early businesses and redistributes them to other businesses. The cards will then be used for marketing giveaways to promote businesses.

“COVID-19 has had a big impact on our community,” City Administrator Tony Aaron said in the video, which is posted on the city’s Facebook page.

“Early, Brownwood, Brown County — we’re all suffering from health issues related to the health of our bodies and and the health of our economy. The City of Early has seen a great economic boom over the last two to three years and we want to do what we can to help recover that and get that started again.

“In order to assist our businesses we’ve developed a couple of grant programs that we really think are going to be a big help to you — help to our businesses, help to our citizens, and bring our economy back where it needs to be. We are going to recover from COVID 19 and we’re going to have a stronger local economy and a stronger bond with our relationships between our neighbors and our businesses. These grants can help you out. We hope that you apply for these and that you look at them as a hand up and not a hand out.”

Larry McConn, director of municipal development, explained on the video the Small Business Support Grant.

The grant will provide up to $2,500 for each business that qualifies to assist them with items such as rent, utilities or covering employee support expenses such as payroll.

“We’re not able to assist every business in the city but we would like to help as many as possible,” McConn said.

The guidelines for the grant are at www.earlytx.net.

Tourism Director Denise Hudson explained Operation HUB.

“Our businesses are not just storefronts,” Hudson said. “They are our friends, neighbors and sponsors of our local events. They create and support the activities we enjoy, places we can network and define who Early is. Right now our businesses need our support more than ever and want to unite and support our businesses.”

Visit Early has teamed up with the municipal development district to create Operation Hub, Hudson said.

“We want to use Operation HUB to support and unite our businesses by purchasing gift cards from one business and giving them to another business, to use as promotional giveaways via social media,” Hudson said.

“We are all in this together and as we reopen Early, we can and we will unite our businesses.”