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Virus grant program kicks off

The Warren County Commissioners said $2 million in CARES Act funding is available to businesses and non-profits that have been impacted by COVID-19.

Warren County has millions of dollars burning holes in its pockets.

The county commissioners have allocated $2 million in CARES Act funding and are looking to give it away as grants to businesses and non-profits that have been impacted by COVID-19.

The commissioners have come up with a plan for awarding those dollars over three rounds.

Dollars are available for small businesses and 501(c)(3) and 501 (c)(19) non-profits.

“The business must be licensed and operating in the county and have a physical location in the county,” Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said.

To qualify as a small business, an enterprise must have no more than 100 employees.

The limit is 500 for non-profit entities and “tourism-related” businesses.

Applicants must have been in business in the county on Feb. 15, and must be able to show the business “suffered a COVID-related loss or expense,” Eggleston said.

As an example of a loss for a non-profit, Eggleston gave a hypothetical entity that has one major fund-raiser every year and was not able to this year because of pandemic-related restrictions. The entity must be able to show how much is typically raised by that event.

“They can apply for the balance,” he said.

The commissioners worked to create an application process that is streamlined and doesn’t create additional barriers to businesses that have seen losses. “There are a lot of small businesses here,” Commissioner Tricia Durbin said. “We tried to create flexibility.”

The commissioners are sending out requests for proposals and expect to hire individuals and firms to assist applicants (Business Liaison Agencies — BLA) and to review applications (Financial Review Agencies — FRA) next Wednesday.

Once that is done, application deadlines will approach quickly.

The first round of grants will include $1 million. The application period will be from 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 17 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28.

“The money is going to be released in early September,” Eggleston said. “The county will provide a link to the application on the county website — warrencopa.com.”

Those who are able are encouraged to apply for the first round. “We would urge all businesses and non-profits to start gathering information to show their loss due to COVID,” Eggleston said.

If the total application amounts approved by the FRAs fall short of the available funds, the commissioners expect to make all applicants whole.

If the amounts are greater than the funds available in the round, every applicant will received the same percentage of their amounts. If applications for $1.25 million come in for the $1 million available in the first round, each applicant will receive 80 percent of their approved amount. A company approved for $100,000 would receive $80,000.

Businesses and non-profits may apply more than once.

“You can apply for every round,” Eggleston said.

Applications for the second round of grants — $500,000 total — will be due during the end of September and awarded in October. The third round will be awarded in November based on applications in October.

“Part of the reason for having three rounds is to see how the first one goes,” Eggleston said.

If there are very few applicants, the commissioners will consider making changes to the program.

Businesses that have already received relief — through the Paycheck Protection Program or some other benefit — are eligible and may apply, but they may have to wait. “Priority will be given to those who have received no (previous) assistance,” Eggleston said.

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