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Few Applied for City’s COVID Grants, Council Mulls Relaxing Rules

Businesses on Route 1

As of yesterday, less than 5% of City’s COVID grant money went to qualified businesses and City residents.

Since the City announced the COVID-19 grant programs, $59,291.71 was awarded to 43 small businesses through the Small Business Assistance Grants program. A total of $11,051.75 was given to 23 City residents and families through the Individual & Family Financial Assistance Grants program. The City has allocated around $1.5 million dollars of grant money through the COVID-19 CARES Act grant program that the US Congress recently announced.

On a positive note, there has been some traction on businesses and families receiving grants. For example, over the past week, businesses receiving grants went up from 28 to 43, and individuals/families went up from 18 to 23.

City’s Emergency Financial Aid to Families, Senior Citizens, and Other Individuals Program provides financial assistance to families, senior citizens, and other individuals who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial assistance may be provided for eligible expenses, such as rent/mortgage payments to avoid eviction/foreclosure; unforeseen funeral costs; utility payments; and other emergency needs as deemed necessary. Each eligible family/person can receive up to a maximum of $5,000 per household for indirect payments to the applicable payee (landlord, lender, Utility Company) and/or gift cards for eligible expenses. City has allocated a total of $200,000 for this program.

City’s Small Business Assistance Grants Program is designed to assist non-residential small businesses and non-profits with 25 or fewer full-time equivalents (FTEs), with direct economic support for costs of business interruption caused by required closures, voluntary closures to promote social distancing, or affected by decreased customer demand due to COVID-19. Each business/owner can receive up to a maximum grant of $15,000. City has allocated a total of $1 million for this program.

Both programs and their fundings are expected to end on December 1, 2020.

In order to provide more financial assistance to City businesses, City Council will consider relaxing rules to receive these grants. At next week’s meeting, the Council will consider the following requirements/criteria to apply and be eligible for the grant be modified:
1) The restriction that a business could not be part of a national franchise/chain be removed.
2) The restriction that a business has 25 or less full-time equivalent employees be increased to 50 or less

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