Pandemic Shuttered Thousands of Local Businesses. Yet $1.5M in Relief Funds Go Unclaimed.
The clock is ticking. At last check, hundreds of $5,000 grants are still available for Fresno County businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The deadline for submitting an online applications for the funds is Monday, June 1 at 11:59 p.m.
Fresno County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau says as of this past Monday only 650 businesses had applied. He says there are 1,000 grants available.
If no more applications are received, over $1.5 million in available funds will be left on the table — unclaimed.
No Repayment Required
Officials say businesses do not need to repay the money, as long as it is used for legitimate expenses including payroll, rent, utilities and other operating costs.
The grant program was designed to distribute funds evenly to each of the five supervisorial districts and awarded to businesses through a lottery system.
But Russeau said Thursday that if fewer than 1,000 businesses apply, all who qualify will be funded.
“Yes, they’re guaranteed to get it,” Rousseau said. “They have to meet certain criteria. They have to have been in business two years. Not have any recent bankruptcies. They can’t have accounting issues. And, yes, there will be 1,000 grants issued over the next month.”
The grant program requires business owners to provide proof they were open two years before the economy was shut down and to fill out a simple, two-page online application. Here is the LINK.
Supervisors said no double-dipping is allowed. Businesses that have already received federal or local aid are not eligible for county funds.
Here are some of the grant guidelines outlined on the Fresno County’s web portal for the progam:
- Applicants shall be a for-profit business physically located and operating in Fresno County with a demonstrated economic need and have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
- Grant funds will be equitably distributed by County Districts.
- Grants must be limited to (1) grant per business entity.
- Business must have 10 full time equivalent employees (FTE) or less. Self-employed business owners are eligible.
- Business applicant must have no outstanding local, state, federal tax liens nor judgments. If this is applicable, business must upload documentation of their current payment plan.
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Program Funding Source
The county set aside $5 million from its $82 million in federal stimulus funds for the program.
The “Help Underserved Businesses Program” was developed by Supervisors Steve Brandau and Brian Pacheco in cooperation with Fresno County Economic Development Corp.
Rousseau says the counties of Tulare, Kern, San Joaquin, and Kings have essentially copied the same program for their small businesses.