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Ad grant program aims to help local businesses weather pandemic

By Staff | Mar 30, 2020

Southwest Florida businesses can now apply for an advertising grant to help them survive the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and thrive beyond it.

Ogden Newspapers Inc., the parent company of Breeze Newspapers, has established a $1 million nationwide fund to help local businesses get back to full strength by subsidizing local marketing efforts through matching advertising dollars.

In Southwest Florida, four different types of ad grants are available and can be tailored to each business’s unique needs. Grants are available in the months of April, May and June on a first-come, first-served basis until the Breeze’s $100,000 portion of the $1 million fund is all claimed.

“Because our community newspapers have such close relationships with our advertising partners, we know that businesses and workers here are hurting; we’re hurting, too,” Breeze Newspapers Publisher Ray Eckenrode said. “But we also know that Southwest Florida residents have a track record of weathering the most difficult of times and that we can pull together as a community and weather this.”

Businesses operating in the communities of Cape Coral, Sanibel-Captiva, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Pine Island, North Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres can apply for a grant today at www.ogdennews.com/community-grant. Applicants will receive a response to their application within one to two business days. Businesses can participate each month of the program but must re-apply monthly.

The fund is open to all locally owned and operated businesses impacted by the coronavirus, Eckenrode said, whether or not they are current Breeze Newspapers advertisers. Grant money can be used for local print advertising between April 1 and June 30 in the following newspapers and publications:

– Cape Coral Breeze

– Island Reporter/Sanibel-Captiva Islander

– Fort Myers Beach Observer

– Pine Island Eagle

– North Fort Myers Neighbor

– Lehigh Acres Citizen

– Community Lifestyles Magazine (Cape Coral and South Fort Myers editions)

– Breeze Newspapers Hurricane Guide

“A community newspaper is only as strong as the community it serves,” Robert Nutting, chief executive officer of Ogden Newspapers, said. “As a family-owned business operating for almost 130 years, we have learned that the only way to pull through the hard times is to stand with your partners and customers. We are proud to offer this assistance to the local businesses that form the backbone of the communities where we publish.”

Ogden Newspapers operates more than 40 daily newspapers across the country, plus a number of weekly newspapers and a magazine division.

Eckenrode said the ad grant program is the first and most important feature of a “Support SWFL” program that Breeze Newspapers will roll out over the next weeks and months that will include things like social media contests and special publications aimed at helping re-start the region’s tourist economy once the threat of the coronavirus pandemic has passed.