Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak today visited two local businesses to hear concerns about pandemic recovery and to present a check to one of the last local businesses to receive a Pandemic Emergency Technical Support (PETS) grant from the state.
Tabu McKnight, who runs Tabu’s of Reno Barber Lounge on South Sierra Street, called the PETS grant a blessing. Sisolak called McKnight to give him the news about getting the grant.
“It was a little bit shocking,” McKnight said. “I was definitely surprised. I was like, ‘Are you sure? Is this real?’ I wasn’t expecting anything.”
“It was the last one, too,” Sisolak remarked.
“I don’t care what order I got it, whether it was first or last, I really don’t care,” McKnight said, while smiling. “I’m grateful.”
McKnight said he is continuing his philanthropic and volunteer work in the community. The pandemic, he said, slowed efforts, but he’s getting back to work.
The Pandemic Emergency Technical Support (PETS) grant program launched last year with $20 million in federal Coronavirus relief funds. The program was aimed at providing flexible grant money to small businesses. About 9,400 Nevada businesses received shares of $100 million.
A breakdown of grant awards from the program was provided by the Governor’s Office as below:
- Disadvantaged businesses, defined as women, Veteran, minority or disability-owned: 4,907 (52%)
- Bars and restaurants: 685 (7%)
- Chambers of commerce: 31 (0.3%)
- Non-profits: 657 (7%)
- Arts and culture: 276 (3%)
- Other businesses: 2832 (30%)
Black Wall Street
Sisolak also visited Black Wall Street to learn more about the nonprofit.
Black Wall Street does direct outreach, including financial literacy, leadership building, credit repair, providing food and redistributing donations the group receives.
“What can the state do to help?” Sisolak asked.
Donald Griffin, Black Wall Street co-founder, said the organization needs a bigger space and more funding.
“We’re … trying to reach the youth so that they don’t have the same stories that we have in the community,” he said. “We do it for the community free of charge. We just ask for small donations. Same with you, we’re going to ask for a small donation if you can. We’re providing for our youth, leading the way so they have role models that look like them as well.”
Romar “T-Wizdom” Tolliver, also co-founder, said the group helps about 100 to 200 families per month.
Sisolak encouraged Black Wall Street to apply for state grants as they are being developed.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time research appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.