Only 31 Applications Received So Far For City’s Small Business Assistance Program
Applications were still available Thursday for eligible Sulphur Springs businesses interested in applying for the City of Sulphur Springs’ small business assistance grant program. The city proposed the planned program, which gained approval, at last Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting to provide a small amount of assistance to qualifying city businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The program is being established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualifying small Sulphur Springs businesses can download the application starting Tuesday evening from the COVID-19 Business Resources menu on the City of Sulphur Springs’ website to seek up to $2,500 in financial assistance so long as funding lasts.
As of July 9, the city had received 24 applicants. Over the last week, the number has increased to 31 applicants. Up to the first 88 qualified businesses to turn in applications will be will be selected to receive grants, so long as funds are available.
City Manager Marc Maxwell said response from local business has been a little bit slower than expected, but interest is growing as word about the program spreads. City officials encourage citizens and businesses to help get the word out about this opportunity for small businesses. The application process and instructions, which can be downloaded from the city website are easy, are simple: just click, download them from the city website, complete and return them.
This program is made possible by the CARES Act-Coronavirus Relief Fund, passed through to the City from the State of Texas.The City is eligible for up to $890,945 in funds; 75 percent of that must be reimbursable expenditures related to public health, medical expenses, or payroll expenses and 25 percent of expenditures may be used to provide economic support.
The City of Sulphur Springs has to submit documentation requesting the funding. The city plans to submit at least $660,000 in public safety payroll and public health expenses for reimbursement. Once approved, the City then plans to disburse the $220,000 as an economic development program “for making grants of public money to promote local economic development and to stimulate business and commercial activity in the city,” Resolution 1199 states. The City would establish a stimulus program to provide limited financial assistance, up to $2,500 each, to small businesses physically located within the city limits.
This is a way the city can help provide assistance small businesses within the city that “were hurt pretty bad and are still hurting bad,” as a result of COVID-19, City Finance Director Lesa Smith said.
“We want to pass this to small businesses who need extra help. We want to be there for them if we can,” Mayor John Sellers said during the July 7 City Council meeting. “Please businesses apply for this so we can help you at least in this small way.”
City officials estimate 200-250 businesses should be eligible to apply for the small business grant funding, but will be able to fund only the first qualified 88 who turn in applications.
Prior to receiving assistance, each business must demonstrate the need for the funds as established in the “Small Business Assistance Program Policy and Application.” Funds may be used to cover economic damages suffered as a direct result of COVID-19, including business lease or mortgage payments, utility payments (excluding City of Sulphur Springs utilities), payroll for employees still employed and working at the business, and other business needs.
Qualified businesses will be selected and funds allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 88 qualified businesses that apply so long as funds are available. Applications will be accepted in person in sealed envelopes sealed with the business name and “Covid 19 Business Grant” written on them at the water payment office at 125 South Davis St. weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each will be time stamped as it is brought in.
Home based, non-profit and publicly traded companies are ineligible to apply for funding. The stipulation for “commercially zoned or classified,” the structure has to be a “real brick and mortar” building within the city limits city.
A 4-person small business assistance program committee made up of the City Manager Marc Maxwell, Finance Director Lesa Smith, Community Development Director Tory Niewiadomski and City Council member Doug Moore will review and approve applications for the program.
Approved businesses should note that disbursement of funds be issued after the City receives notification of reimbursement from Texas Department of Emergency Management for other COVID related expenses.