• County To Start Small-Business Grant Program

    Friday, June 12, 2020

    Casey Armstrong, assistant county administrator, announced Wednesday that county staff are looking into creating a small-business grant program to help Rockingham County businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Area residents gather at the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction near Dayton in 2019

    A draft of the program was presented during Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, but it is likely to be revised as questions and concerns are cleared.

    The small-business grant program will be funded by $500,000 the county received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.

    As stated in the draft of the program, the COVID-19 shutdown and forced closure of non-essential businesses had severely impacted businesses in the county and incorporated towns, specifically within the retail, restaurant, service and travel-related sectors.

    “It is now necessary to provide financial relief in emergencies to small businesses in Rockingham County in response to the economic impact of COVID-19 as an essential part of the county’s economic development and recovery efforts,” according to the draft.

    The program will assist small businesses in the county and incorporated towns by providing cash for working capital to support rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses and similar expenses that occur in an ordinary course of business.

    On June 24, the Board of Supervisors will authorize the budget, appropriation and transfer of the CARES Act funds to the Economic Development Authority for distribution through the small-business grant program. Following an executed agreement, the EDA will transfer the funds directly to the program to be disbursed.

    Armstrong said grants would be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, and qualifying businesses include hotels, restaurants, retail stores, personal service establishments, office and facility support services and tourism venues.

    Once the terms and conditions of the program are finalized by the EDA and Board of Supervisors, the county will be designated to administer the program, along with determining which businesses receive the grants and the process for selecting grant recipients.

    Any CARES Act grant funds not distributed by Dec. 30 will be returned to the county.

    Armstrong said he hopes to have the application window for businesses to apply for grants open by July 1.

    Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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