RICHMOND—A Northern Virginia technology entrepreneur and potential contender for governor has created a fund to help small businesses weather the novel coronavirus crisis until federal funds arrive.

Pete Snyder and his wife, Burson, have donated $100,000 in “seed money” to create the nonprofit Virginia 30 Day Fund, which is intended to help businesses meet payroll, preserve health-care coverage for workers and avoid layoffs while awaiting the federal aid expected to arrive in about a month.

The fund will provide up to $3,000 to each approved small business. Recipients do not have to repay the money, but if they eventually are in a position to do so, it will be directed to another qualified business.

Snyder said business and philanthropic leaders also plan donations to the fund, which will “greatly expand” its reach.

“While the small-business assistance on its way from the Trump administration is crucial, it is clear that many need help to survive and retain their employees while they await that relief,” Snyder said.

Snyder, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 2013, has been publicly considering a run for governor in 2021. He said the fund has no connection to any political plans.

“This is a time for us to be helping each other,” he said. “There are other days for politics, but today is not one.”

The coronavirus had killed 54 Virginians as of Monday, and it has wreaked havoc on an economy that last month boasted a 2.6% unemployment rate. Record numbers of people have filed jobless claims as Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam declared a public health emergency and ordered residents to shelter at home, leading many businesses to shut down.

To apply to Snyder’s fund, a business must fill out a one-page form at and submit a video no more than three minutes long about the enterprise and its employees. Applications will be evaluated by volunteers with MBAs from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, as well as “some of the top business minds from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” Snyder said. Businesses will get an answer in three days, he said, and those approved “can expect an immediate transfer of funds.” Qualifying businesses must be based in Virginia, have operated for at least a year, employ three to 30 people and be owned and operated by a Virginia resident.

“In this crisis, we don’t have time for red tape,” Snyder said. “We don’t have time for delays.”

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