While all parts of our society have been affected in differing ways by the coronavirus pandemic, it has had an especially devastating impact on small businesses and nonprofit agencies.
That’s why it was a good move for the Jefferson County Commissioners to approve the creation of the Jefferson County COVID-19 Small Business-Nonprofit Emergency Relief Grant Program.
Under its program, the county will use up to $1 million in money it has received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to provide grants of up to $10,000 to eligible small businesses and nonprofit agencies in the county that successfully complete an application process.
Thursday’s decision to go forward with the local program came after several weeks of discussion among the commissioners, county Auditor E.J. Conn and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. It is money that is designed to help area businesses survive until they can get back on solid ground, according to Tricia Maple-Damewood, president of the chamber of commerce.
It is open to businesses in the county that have 25 or fewer employees and an annual revenue that in 2019 did not exceed $2 million as well as certain types of nonprofit groups. Entities that apply must be able to show documentation of revenue loss or an increase in expenses due to COVID-19. Applications, which can be found online at the websites of the auditor and chamber, will be reviewed by a panel that includes representatives from the auditor’s office and chamber. The application period opened at 9 a.m. today and will continue through midnight on Nov. 29.
Approval of the county-chamber plan came just one day after members of Steubenville City Council said they were looking to put a similar program into place that would use some of the city’s C.A.R.E.S. Act money to help nonprofits. If council members sign off during Tuesday’s meeting on the emergency ordinance that was sunshined Wednesday night, nonprofits will be able to apply for grants that will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Both programs are examples of good use of money that is coming from the C.A.R.E.S. Act, which was designed to provide economic assistance for American workers, families and small businesses while helping to perverse jobs in American industries. They come at an important time, as some businesses, including those that specialize in food and entertainment as well as some retailers, are continuing to struggle.
Though they might differ in scope and reach, the city’s proposal and the collaboration among the commissioners, the auditor’s office and the chamber will offer help to area residents who count on the work done by nonprofits, as well as extend assistance to businesses that serve area customers and provide jobs to area residents.
That’s the type of help the C.A.R.E.S. Act was designed to provide.