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Bexar County commissioners approve $1.5M more for small business grants - KSAT San Antonio

Bexar County commissioners approve $1.5M more for small business grants - KSAT San Antonio

Bexar County commissioners approve $1.5M more for small business grants - KSAT San Antonio

Posted: 19 May 2020 04:56 PM PDT

Additional $5M meant for loans could also be redirected to grants

SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County Commissioners Court approved another $1.5 million on Tuesday to be used for small business grants after previously approved $5.25 million loan and grant programs were tapped dry.

The new round of grants will use money from the federal CARES Act to provide up to $10,000 grants to businesses with five or fewer employees. An additional $5 million in federal money the county originally planned to use for loans could also end up redirected for grants, although county staff still need to present a plan for it.

"If we talk about up to $10,000 per small business, that's 150 small businesses that we can help right away," said Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez.

As with the original $5 million loan and $250,000 grant programs commissioners approved in March, the new grants will be administered by the not-for-profit lender LiftFund.

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The original round of funding, which came from county coffers, has already been awarded through 261 loans and 52 grants. LiftFund used almost $165,000 in additional funding sources to help fund approved loans that were already too far along in the process to cancel.

The grant money went quickly, said LiftFund CEO and President Janie Barrera.

"Within three days, we were oversubscribed," Barrera said. "The $250,000 became closer to almost $1 million in requests."

There's now a much larger slice of funding pie available and more could be coming.

The county had also planned to commit another $5 million in CARES Act money for loans, but officials decided they might not be able to use the federal funds in that capacity. While grant money would be distributed out to the community, the county would still have accountability over the loans.

"If you think about a loan, eventually it's going to get paid back. And these dollars were really intended to go and help the businesses in need today," said David Marquez, executive director of the Bexar County Economic Development Department.

The $5 million might instead end up funneled into grant programs as well, whether through LiftFund or other organizations. Rodriguez requested Marquez bring back a recommendation to the commissioners court on how to use the money.

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Commissioners also requested that the new round of funding be more equitable across the county. Figures provided by LiftFund showed 85 loans awarded to Precinct 3 businesses compared to the 33 loans in Precinct 1 in the first round of loans and grants.

"We need to have balance in the precinct, because every precinct is paying into it but not getting equal numbers," said Commissioner Tommy Calvert, whose Precinct 4 received 63 loans.

FIRST ROUND OF LOANS (provided by LiftFund)

  • Precinct 1 33 loans (13%); $650,506
  • Precinct 2 80 loans (31%); $1,526,200
  • Precinct 3 85 loans (32%); $1,773,100
  • Precinct 4 63 loans (24%); $1,215,000
  • TOTAL: 261 loans; $5,164,806

About half of the loan recipients were small businesses in the retail, service, and food and accommodation services, according to LiftFund. Barrera did not have a breakdown available for the 52 grants that were awarded.

Barrera expects the new round of grants will not open up until June, saying the county will need to decide on the parameters for the grants. Additionally, businesses will have more time to prepare.

"It's not going to be a first come, first served. It will be based on whatever the county decides in terms of how they would like to distribute those funds," Barrera said.


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Small Business Coronavirus Grants Available %%sep%% %%sitename%% - Small Business Trends

Posted: 10 May 2020 04:48 PM PDT

It's no secret that small businesses are facing massive financial challenges due to coronavirus.

But there are some options available to help struggling entrepreneurs make ends meet until they reopen or regain some of the business lost during this unprecedented time.

Coronavirus Grants for Small Business

Below is a list of grants and financial assistance programs available to small businesses. Some are available to certain types of businesses and others are open to all SMBs struggling. Read through to find the opportunities that may be a good fit for your small business.

Facebook Small Business Grant Program

Facebook is offering $100 million in grant funds and ad credits to small businesses affected by coronavirus. To qualify, businesses need to have between 2 and 50 employees. The funds are available to more than 30,000 businesses in more than 30 countries where Facebook operates.

Salesforce Care Grants

Salesforce and Ureeka have partnered to offer $10,000 grants to small businesses experiencing hardships. To qualify, businesses must have between 2 and 50 employees, have at least 2 years in business as of March 2020, and have between $250,000 and $2 million in annual revenue. Applications are open in phases based on location. Qualified businesses can apply online.

Google Ad Credits

Google is offering $340 million worth of ad credits to SMBs around the world. The company has also committed grants to support health organizations and non-profits. The funds available to SMBs are available to those who have had active Google Ads accounts over the past year. And the credits are automatically available, so you don't need to apply. SMBs can use the funds for ad spend throughout 2020.

Yelp Advertising Credits

Yelp is offering $25 in relief specifically for restaurants and nightlife businesses facing coronavirus challenges. This relief includes free advertising and waived fees, like free page upgrades and three months of free access to Yelp Reservations and Waitlist features. Independent local advertisers in other industries can also apply for relief.

GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund

GoFundMe's Small Business Relief Fund provides micro-grants to small businesses affected by coronavirus. To qualify, small businesses must raise at least $500 in a GoFundMe fundraiser, and the company and its partners provide matching grants to provide additional support. Businesses must also be independently operated and use the funds to support employees. Partners include Yelp, Intuit QuickBooks,, and GoDaddy.

Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund

The Local Initiatives Support Coalition and Verizon have partnered to provide grants of up to $10,000 for qualified small businesses. Verizon's total investment includes $7.5 million. Businesses can use the funds to pay rent and utilities, meet payroll, pay outstanding debts, and meet other immediate operational expenses.

Goldman Sachs COVID-19 Relief Fund

Goldman Sachs has made a commitment of $550 million in total relief funds. Much of that is set aside for emergency small business loans. The rest is available in grant funds to organizations, healthcare providers, and communities.

JPMorgan Chase Philanthropic Investment

As part of its $50 million global philanthropic commitment, JPMorgan Chase has set aside grant funds for small businesses throughout the U.S., Europe, and China that are facing economic hardships. The funds will be mainly dedicated to businesses in vulnerable and underserved markets.

The Entrepreneurial Dream Project

This grant and mentorship program from Supermaker includes $100,000 in non-dilutive grant funds and mentorship opportunities with accomplished entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban and Rebecca Minkoff. Two qualified businesses will receive the funds and ten more will receive coaching.

Business For All

Business For All is a mentorship and grant program powered by Alice and Verizon. Small businesses can apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support their growth. There are also $10,000 emergency grants available to support businesses in crisis due to coronavirus. Grants are awarded on a rolling basis. And businesses can apply until September. The program also includes video mentorship sessions with prominent entrepreneurs.

Freelancers Relief Fund

Many freelancers have lost work during the pandemic and don't have access to traditional unemployment benefits. So the Freelancers Union has set up a fund to distribute emergency aid to members in need. Beneficiaries may receive up to $1,000 to help cover household expenses during this time.

The Workers Fund

The Workers Fund is a program that accepts donations and distributes them to gig workers and low earning contract employees who do not qualify for unemployment benefits but have lost work due to coronavirus. The Workers Lab is working with Canary to get funds out to verified freelancers and gig workers.

Artist Relief

For artists of various disciplines facing financial hardships due to coronavirus, Artist Relief has brought together national arts grantmakers to help. Qualified artists may receive $5,000 grants to help with dire financial emergencies.

Beauty Changes Lives Relief Grants

For beauty industry professionals who are out of work due to coronavirus, Beauty Changes Lives is offering $1,000 Relief Grants. Grants are funded by the Horst Rechelbacher Foundation and CDN Creative Nail Design and are available to working professionals and students of beauty programs.

JBF Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund

The James Beard Fund has made emergency relief funds available to independent restaurants and food service businesses. The applications are currently suspended due to overwhelming demand. But they may re-open the program going forward.

Stacy's Rise Project

For female founded businesses, Stacy's is offering a grant, mentorship, and advertising program to provide support during this time. Fifteen female founders will receive $10,000 grants. And applicants may also receive free ad space and expertise from PepsiCo and Frito-Lay business leaders.

SheaMoisture Fund

SheaMoisture is offering grants for women of color, black business owners, and businesses that assist communities through the pandemic. The company has set aside a total of $1 million to help businesses stay afloat, with funds separated into a few different grant categories.

State and Local Grants

In addition to those listed above, there are plenty of grants available to businesses in specific states and local communities. If your business operates locally, you can search for grants that apply to your area here. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation also has a list of programs here.

If you know of more grants available to small businesses dealing with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic response, please let us know in the comments section


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Mississippi lawmakers approved $300M in small business grants. Can they apply for the money? - Clarion Ledger

Posted: 22 May 2020 04:11 PM PDT


Extra precautions are being taken at the Mississippi State Capital as the session resumes after a temporary shut down due to the coronavirus Mississippi Clarion Ledger

The Mississippi Legislature last week passed a bipartisan bill that commits $300 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to small businesses.

But can lawmakers who operate small businesses themselves apply for the money?

That's the question Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann wants the Mississippi Ethics Commission to answer. The eight-member commission discussed the issue at a special meeting Friday morning, but delayed a final decision until it could obtain more details next week, said Tom Hood, executive director of the commission.  

Leah Rupp Smith, Hosemann's deputy chief of staff, said several senators asked before and during debate on the legislation if they could participate in the small business grant program themselves. Hosemann "indicated he did not believe they could," Smith said in a statement. "As the president of the body, the lieutenant governor told members he would request an opinion to accurately determine the boundaries of the ethics laws."

Senate Bill 2772 involves two programs, which will draw funds from the $1.25 billion Mississippi received from the CARES Act, passed by Congress. Some $60 million will automatically be sent to 29,000 small businesses in industries forced close by Gov. Tate Reeves' stay-at-home order. They will get $2,000 each. 

The remaining $240 million will be distributed through grants of up to $25,000 that small businesses will apply for through the Mississippi Development Authority. The funds will first be focused on businesses that have not already received federal coronavirus relief money.

Reeves signed the bill this week, and the system for applications and distribution is still being set up. 

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The legislation specifically said lobbyists, businesses that hired a lobbyist, or ones involved in partisan political activities, could not apply for the program. But the bill did not say anything about the people who passed the bill. It's unclear how many lawmakers would be interested in applying, though many are involved in small businesses for their day jobs. Small businesses across the state have faced steep declines in business due to the coronavirus and shelter-in-place orders. 

State law and past Ethics Commission opinions generally warn against legislators using their influence or voting on issues that would benefit them or their family members directly.

Only a small handful of lawmakers did not vote on the small business legislation, or voted "present."

The bill's author, Sen. Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, said he doesn't plan to apply himself, but heard questions from a number of senators and representatives on whether they could apply for the relief funds. He said he told them they would need to get it cleared with the commission. 

"I have heard rumblings on whether it's constitutional for legislators who have small businesses to apply for a grant," added Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville, the Democratic leader. 

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Philip Gunn did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. 

Hood said the commission was "asked to expedite" the request for an opinion on the small business grants, which is why it held the meeting Friday, ahead of its normally-scheduled meeting June 5. The commission is expected to vote on the question next Friday after obtaining more information related to how the Development Authority plans to distribute the money and set up contracts, he said. 

Membership of the Ethics Commission is made up of appointments made by the governor, the lieutenant governor and the House speaker. 

The Legislature plans to reconvene Tuesday. Lawmakers departed the Capitol on March 18 due to the coronavirus, but briefly returned twice to hammer out legislation on relief funding, including the business grants.

On Tuesday, senators will be briefed by State Economist Darrin Webb and Department of Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson on the state's economic outlook and revenue projections, which will take a major hit due to the virus. 

"We need to understand the economic consequences of the shut down and COVID-19 as best we can before crafting a new budget," Hosemann said in a statement. 

Contact Luke Ramseth at 601-961-7050 or Follow @lramseth on Twitter.

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