More Greene County businesses now eligible for relief grants

Greene County will expand its CARES Grant for Greene County Small Businesses. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS

Greene County businesses that previously were ineligible for coronavirus relief grants because they had already received federal funding will be able to apply next week for up to $300,000 in funding available.

Greene County commissioners approved the change in how they distribute federal CARES Act funding at their meeting Thursday afternoon.

“Commissioners wanted to help the smallest businesses first and those that had no other federal or state help first,” Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said.

Eric Henry, director of development for Greene County, said they wanted to focus on “mom and pop” businesses first.

Previously businesses that had received Paycheck Protection Program funds were not eligible for Greene County’s small business CARES grant.

“The turnout (for applications) will be very strong. We’ve received feedback throughout this process about how we can make this program better and this has been overwhelmingly the No. 1 request, is to remove this (PPP) restriction,” Henry said.

The program was created using the money from the federal CARES Act program, with Greene County receiving $2.5 million in funds from the state.

Greene County commissioners set aside $500,000 for the small business program, leaving $2 million to be used to offset the cost of Greene County response to the pandemic, the county said.

The county has spent about $200,000 of the CARES grant for small businesses, so the businesses that would newly be allowed to apply have about $300,000 available to them, Huddleson said.

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On Aug. 1, the department rolled out the program, which was created to provide economic relief to local businesses for costs directly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release. Through August, only businesses with up to $1 million gross annual income were able to apply.

At the end of August, the county announced it would also begin allowing companies with up to $5 million gross annual income to apply.

To apply for the CARES Grant for Greene County Small businesses, a business have 50 or fewer employees, have less than $5 million in gross annual revenue and must have a physical storefront, among other requirements.

Eligible small businesses can apply for up to $10,000 for reimbursement of coronavirus-related costs incurred after March 1, including sanitizing and personal protective equipment, costs related to enforcing social distancing or rent or mortgage payments. Henry said since the program is reimbursement based, a business has to show the development department receipts to get issued a check.

The county can issue checks in as quickly as just a few weeks, Henry said.

“It’s been a pretty fast-moving program, I think most people have been pretty happy with it,” he said.

Applications for the CARES Grant for Greene County Small Businesses programs can be accessed on the Greene County website.

Henry said if the remaining $300,000 doesn’t get spent in this round of applications, the county will open up the program further. Greene County commissioners also said the county could get more coronavirus relief dollars if Senate Bill 357 passes in the Ohio Legislature, which they could potentially put toward the small business grants.

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