Mayfield Village officials plan to distribute second round of small business grants - News-Herald.com

Mayfield Village officials plan to distribute second round of small business grants - News-Herald.com


Mayfield Village officials plan to distribute second round of small business grants - News-Herald.com

Posted: 14 Nov 2020 08:00 AM PST

Mayfield Village officials distributed $50,000 in grants to small businesses in October, and are moving forward in opening up applications for a second round of funds.

According to Economic Development Manager John Marquart, the funds that Mayfield Village provided to small businesses came directly from the city's established economic development fund.

Marquart said the administration began considering an aid program for the community's small businesses at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and after observing how many businesses were still struggling even after some of them received federal grants, there was still a need.

"It became clear that not everybody who needed the help got the help. So we got back together and decided to offer this program," Marquart said.

He said they were able to distribute $2,500 grants to 20 small business applicants, which exhausted the available funds his department had requested from city council.

"We arrived at $2,500 per company as a figure that was sort of significant enough to be helpful, but also sort of small enough that would allow us to spread the wealth around the village," Marquart said.

However, after the deadline to apply for a grant had passed, he said he was approached by several businesses who had not been able to complete an application for various reasons. Marquart said this indicated to him that need still existed for additional funds.

He said that he plans to approach the city council at their Nov. 16 meeting to request an additional $25,000 from the economic development fund, and anticipates the request will pass.

According to Marquart, if it passes, the grant applications should open up again quickly.

In order to qualify for the $2,500, small businesses have to meet a series of criteria, including having a brick-and-mortar presence in Mayfield Village, less than 20 full-time employees, and demonstrate a negative financial impact due to coronavirus.

Marquart said that overall their small businesses have held on well during the pandemic. He said that he did not believe any of them have permanently closed.

"I made a point actually of hand delivering the checks for the first round and it was terrific to see the gratitude and also talk with them about their perseverance and their grit," he said. "All of them were really happy to see us walk in with the funds, but also equally happy to tell us that, 'hey, we've made it, we've treaded water.'"

Lakeshore Dance and Gymnastics was one of the businesses to receive a grant.

Owner Sally DeAngelo said it helped her business its their personal protective equipment, since she said prices of simple items such as hand sanitizer had skyrocketed over the pandemic.

She said that they should be able to stretch the grant money "about three or four months."

With federal aid lacking, CT launches $50M small business grants - CT Insider

Posted: 13 Nov 2020 04:19 PM PST

For Bob Abbate, it was 15 minutes of work to score $5,000 — he hopes — as part of Gov. Ned Lamont's $50 million program to provide no-strings grants to very small businesses.

Friday was the first full day for business owners to apply for the grants under the program Lamont announced last month at a restaurant in Windsor. Many expect the money to go fast, as everyone agrees it won't come close to addressing the revenue shortfalls small firms face in Connecticut.

"Times are tough for many of us right now, and programs like these are sorely needed," said Abbate, who put in for funding in support of his Bob Abbate Marketing in Bridgeport, which provides a range of services including advertising and search-engine optimization.

Bob Abbate was among the employers to apply for a $5,000 grant under the Connecticut CARES Small Business Grant program, which opened for applications on Nov. 12, 2020, with funding sufficient to support up to 10,000 businesses statewide with payrolls under $1.5 million or 20 employees max.

For some of the state's 10,000 businesses that will receive the grants, it amounts to a lifeline. To others that pay out $1 million or more in annual wages, it's a figurative drop in the bucket.

Either way, the state Department of Economic and Community Development began collecting applications Thursday night. DECD did not disclose immediately how many applied for money to be disbursed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Money for the Connecticut CARES Small Business Grant Program is funneling from the state's $1.4 billion allocation in last spring's federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which has supported a range of programs including expanded unemployment compensation.

Restaurants are among the hardest hit. In early November, the Lamont administration knocked Connecticut back to a "Phase 2.1" set of business restrictions that included reducing indoor restaurant seating back to 50 percent of normal capacity, and ordering all establishments to close their kitchens and bars at 9:30 p.m.

Even before that rollback, Scott Dolch, the head of the Connecticut Restaurant Association had been critical in October of the administration's decision to parse out the funding as widely as possible to smaller businesses through the $5,000 cap. He suggested it would not provide the longer-term foundation of comparable programs that can award $100,000 or more in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

State officials said at the time that those states had received the same or nearly the same total allocation under the CARES Act, but had a small fraction of Connecticut's COVID-19 cases.

DECD did not make a senior official available on Friday to discuss the newest grant program. More than 300 people tuned into a Zoom web conference at the end of October led by Glendowlyn Thames, deputy commissioner.

"We recognize that we are still in the thick of this pandemic," Thames said on the Zoom session. "The smallest of small businesses continue to be hit the hardest. ... Many of these businesses were least likely to get federal Paycheck Protection [Program] funds."

The new program is limited to businesses and nonprofits with no more than 20 employees, or an annualized payroll last year below $1.5 million. To qualify, businesses must demonstrate their revenue has dropped at least 20 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the money fills a "material financial need" in DECD's words that cannot otherwise be filled.

Half the money is reserved for businesses located within Connecticut's 25 municipalities the state classifies as economically "distressed" to include Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford.

"We are trying to reach those smaller businesses, nonprofits and sole proprietors that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and those that are least likely to receive other assistance ... such as women and minority-owned businesses," stated DECD spokesperson Jim Watson, in an email response to a query on the program.

If the funds are not drained immediately, the application window will be kept open through 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19. Businesses can use the money for most any expense if they demonstrate they cannot cover it otherwise, including payroll and reimbursing outside contractors.

Information and applications are online at Portal.ct.gov/DECD, with DECD also fielding queries via phone at 860-500-2333 or email to decdctrecovery@ct.gov.

Julie Robbins, CEO of The Well for Women massage therapy center in New Haven, got notice 45 minutes in advance of the application website going live at 8 p.m. Thursday and acted quickly with business information on hand from Quickbooks, her records from an earlier federal Paycheck Protection Program application and other sources.

She said the $5,000 represents a "huge assist" for her business if approved.

"At 8:01 I opened the application and found it to be very straightforward," Robbins said in an email. "By 8:18 I submitted the application with fingers crossed."

More than 2,200 small businesses lined up for a $25 million DECD loan program last spring, designed as "bridge" financing after the massive PPP bogged down in Connecticut and nationally as banks were swamped with applications.

By June, nearly 61,000 Connecticut businesses had been approved for $6.7 billion under the PPP program, with the loans converting to grants if employers can demonstrate they do not lay off workers. That included 5,700 Connecticut employers approved for PPP loans of $5,000 or less, according to Small Business Administration data.

But no small number of the smallest businesses had their applications turned down by banks and credit unions administering the program, particularly for businesses applying to a bank with which they did not have an existing account. Thames said the new Connecticut CARES Small Business Grant program would not prioritize funds for businesses that were unable to secure PPP funding.

A small number of niche businesses are ineligible, including liquor stores. DECD will disburse the funds through Social Finance, an online finance firm which does business as SoFi. Credit scores are not factored into decisions on awards

A sole proprietor running multiple businesses would be able to put in applications for each of them, provided the entities have separate tax identification numbers for IRS reporting purposes.

In the Zoom forum, Thames said DECD purposefully tried to keep the application as simple as possible, while adhering to compliance requirements for states allocating money they receive under the CARES Act. DECD is cross-checking applications against Department of Revenue Services records to ensure applicants are not in arrears on taxes.

"We're really leaning toward a lot of these questions being 'yes' or 'no' — and you giving us your word," Thames said. "If you sign the ... legal document that transfers the money once you're approved, you are basically certifying that all these things that [you] say are true."

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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