Kent County will offer $1,000 COVID-19 relief grants to the first 75 small businesses that qualify.
Businesses will be able to apply online at https://www.kentcounty.com/business/business-support/incentives/grants beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 7. Applications will close at 5 p.m. Friday, May 15.
Applications will be date and time stamped upon submittal of the online form and the grants will be provided to the first 75 eligible businesses.
The online application should take 10 minutes or less, Jamie Williams, the county’s economic development director, told the Kent County Commissioners Tuesday night.
The grants are being offered to Kent County for-profit businesses established before Jan. 1, 2020, that had no more than four employees on March 5, 2020. Businesses must be in good standing with the county and state.
Businesses that have received some form of COVID-19 relief — such as from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program — will only be considered for county grants if there is money remaining in the program after businesses that have received no funds elsewhere are given grants.
“This gives us a chance to help a few more people that have not been helped by other means,” Kent County Commissioner Ron Fithian said Tuesday night. “We just want to make it go as far as it can.”
The grant funds are coming from the county’s revolving loan fund, which will be dissolved. County officials said that program had never performed as hoped.
According to Kent County Economic Development:
“The Kent County Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Grant Fund will offer working capital to assist Kent County for-profit, small businesses with disrupted operations due to COVID-19.
“Grant assistance is intended to provide interim relief complementing arrangements with the business’ bank(s), business interruption insurance, financial institutions, and federal and state partners.”
Williams also gave the commissioners a brief review of the results of a business impact questionnaire that has been completed by 76 Kent County businesses so far.
The questionnaire continues through Friday and is available online under the Business Resources tab at https://www.kentcounty.com/coronavirus.
Asked if operations had changed as a result of the pandemic and state of emergency, 49% of responding businesses said they had shut down, 33% responded other, 21% were operating with modifications, and 8% were operating normally, Williams said.
About two-thirds of the responding businesses said there had been no layoffs as a result of the pandemic and 63% said no future layoffs are planned. Only 20% of businesses are using telework.
About 42% of businesses said they were are risk or high risk of closing permanently if the state of emergency is prolonged; 11% said the business was at no risk of closing.
Businesses were asked to use a 1-5 scale to quantify the risk of closing, with 1 being no risk and 5 being high risk.
The responses were: 1) 11%; 2) 24%; 3) 24%; 4) 21%; 5) 21%.