Local small businesses financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may be able to receive federal funds through a program being administered by the Forsyth County government and the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
During a recent work session, commissioners approved moving ahead with the Coronavirus Relief Program, a grant program that will provide funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, a $2.2-trillion economic stimulus package approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump earlier this year.
“I had passed out a proposal for the chamber to administrate a grant program that evolved out of the CARES Act,” said Scott Evans, senior technology project manager with the chamber. “This is money that comes to the county and can be used to offer grants to small businesses that are suffering as the COVID-19 coronavirus situation [continues.]”
Commission Chairwoman Laura Semanson said officials were “estimating that this would put a couple of million dollars into the community.”
The county will pay $45,000 in start-up costs to get the program running and a 5% fee for the chamber for what is distributed.
The grants would be handed out in a tiered system based on how many employees a business has, including:
- $2,000 for businesses with one employee;
- $5,000 for businesses with two to five employees;
- $7,500 for businesses with six to 25 employees;
- $10,000 for businesses with 26 to 499 employees.
Evans said most of the businesses approved would have between one and 25 employees and sole proprietors and independent contractors were included.
“What we have put in here after researching these from the different communities, any business would be eligible that has their principal location in Forsyth County, was in business operation as of March 1, can demonstrate a reduction in sales due to COVID-19,” he said.
He said about 1,700 local businesses would receive funding.
There would also be several categories of businesses that would not be eligible for the funds, such as:
- Companies that are publicly traded or partially owned by a hedge fund;
- individuals holding property for sale or investment with no ties to business activities at the location;
- businesses owned and operated by county or chamber officials;
- corporate-owned franchises;
- businesses with unpaid code enforcement liens or violations of any federal, state and local laws;
- companies with legal action against them from the county including code enforcement issues;
- the owner, officer, partner or principal actor of the business is involved with financial mismanagement.
Businesses that apply for the grants would have to provide documentation to the county for audit purposes.
Commissioners will also appoint volunteers to oversee the amounts given to business and will receive reports from chamber officials.