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Salt Lake County is giving away $35 Million for small businesses

A worker passes a sign at a restaurant along the River Walk that has reopened in San Antonio, Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Many restaurants and stores that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic have reopened with some restrictions. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SALT LAKE COUNTY — It’s round two of the Small Business Impact Grant. And there are some changes.

In round one of funding, only companies directly impacted by coronavirus closures — like theaters, event centers and spas — were eligible for the grants.  Plus, they could not have received any other type of relief funding, such as from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP).

So far, only $2.5 million has been awarded of the original $40 million available. Another $2.1 million is awaiting approval. That leaves more than $35 million in grant relief up for grabs.

In a press conference Tuesday, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and Dina Blaes, Director of Regional Development outlined which businesses qualify for the non-repayment grant for round two.

Now, ANY company with fewer than 100 employees may apply for Small Business Impact Grant.  Including those which received less than $35,000 from other aid sources.

Salt Lake County looks to address economic diversity in the community

Blaes said extending grant opportunities will help with the ripple effect of business closures. “In the case of event centers, there are janitorial companies hired by them, as well as laundry services.  Now those smaller  companies are able to apply for a grant.”

Salt Lake County is teaming with several community organizations, like the Suazo Business Center, to get the word out to minority businesses.  Silvia Castro, Executive Director of Suazo, said the company is “working to help the Latino/Hispanic and other underserved communities get access to the grant monies.” 

Blaes confirmed many minority businesses missed out on round one.  Many of them only have commercial checking accounts and no relationship with the banks issuing PPP loans. Additionally, there’s also language barriers.

“Unlike the PPP and the EIDL (Existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan) programs, we have materials translated in five different languages,” explained Blaes. 

Small businesses can apply for up to $35,000 in grant money.  The average amount requested is currently $17,000. Any businesses which received money in round one, can apply for more money — up to the $35,000 mark, stated Blaes.

There are restrictions as to how the money can be used  

The original $40 million is part of the federal CARES Act allocated to Salt Lake County.  The grant must be used for operational expenses and to cover the costs of coronavirus items, like masks and deep cleaning.

Companies must report how they’ve spent the grant money to the county by November 30, 2020.  If the funds were not spent as intended, businesses will have to pay it back.

Mayor Wilson and Blaes hope to see thousands of grant applications appear with the next few days.  

“Smaller businesses are the lifeblood of our economy.  We need to keep them afloat until COVID is behind us,” said Blaes.