By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 7/28/20
Rockingham County’s small business grant review team will start to review applications received for the COVID-19 small business grant program in preparation for the county’s economic development authority meeting Thursday, according to Josh Gooden.
Gooden, economic development and tourism coordinator for the county, said there were 52 applications received by the Friday deadline, but not all applicants qualified due to some businesses being located in Harrisonburg.
Only small businesses located in Rockingham County and its incorporated towns were eligible.
“There were a nice variety among the businesses that applied,” Gooden said in an email.
The grant program, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 24, is funded by $500,000 the county received from the CARES Act and will be used to provide funds to support rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, payroll and similar expenses for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Industries hit the hardest were retail, restaurant, administrative services and travel-related sectors. Many nonessential businesses were also forced to close for months due to the pandemic.
As stated in the approved copy, the program is the most efficient and effective way to distribute resources to small businesses in the county and seven towns.
In order to qualify, a business must be in the retail, hospitality, entertainment, employment and administrative services or travel-related sectors and have between three and 50 full-time employees on-site. Applicants must have gross annual receipts less than $2 million and experienced a revenue
loss of 25% or more due to COVID-19 when compared to average revenue from the past two years.
Businesses with three to 25 full-time employees were eligible to receive a grant worth $5,000, while businesses with 26 to 50 full-time employees could receive a grant of $10,000.
Locally owned franchise businesses were also eligible for grant funding.
Gooden said the number of applications received seemed to be “right in line” based on the number of applications received for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce grant a few months ago.
“With it being a brand new program it was hard to gauge how many applications to expect,” he said.
On Thursday at 8:30 a.m., the economic development authority will review the recommended grant recipients as stated by the grant review team. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Rockingham County Administration Center. The chairman will later sign vouchers for payments to qualified recipients. If applications are approved, payments will be distributed starting Monday.
If the initial $500,000 does not meet the demand for funding, the grant review team will report to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation to see if an additional allocation of CARES Act funds is needed.
If there are additional funds remaining for grants, a second application period will be opened.