Jackson County Commissioners this month set some starting-point figures for assisting businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and now has a grant application online for those who want to see a share of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money set aside by the county for those struggling as a result of COVID-19 and the shut-downs or scale-backs it necessitated.
The CARES Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27 of this year and constitutes more than $2 trillion nationwide in economic relief based on the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
The county’s plan for the use of its allocated share of the CARES Act fund is an evolving strategy paper and some changes have already come.
Initially, as staff prepared a general plan for spending for what will ultimately come to more than $7 million for the county to use and distribute, the small-business grants (for those with 50 employees or less) would be capped at $10,000 each, and $300,000 was tentatively set aside in that line-item.
The grants for larger business (those with more than 50 employees) would be capped at $5,000 each, and $800,000 was set aside in that line-item.
Now, the small-business pot has been raised to $500,000, and the cap for each allocation has been raised to $20,000 from $10,000.
The large-business pot remains at $800,000, but the cap for each has been raised to $10,000 from $5,000.
The board also changed another major factor that could potentially make it much easier for a business to qualify for a piece of the pie. Initially, the business would have had to prove it suffered a 25-percent loss in sales revenue during the period. Under the change, they’ll only have to prove a five-percent loss.
The application requires them to provide documents that show evidence of their claimed losses, and narrative describing them.
The county is considering an agreement with Opportunity Florida to have that entity administer the CARES Act distribution process under the guidelines outlined by the county.
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