Grants available for small businesses that remain open during outbreak

Photo courtesy: MGN
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(WHSV) — A local organization designed to help Shenandoah Valley businesses is offering nearly 20 grants to help employers that are staying open through the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Shenandoah Valley Workforce Board announced on Thursday that they plan to award 18 grants of up to $5,000 each to small businesses that are eligible under state regulations to remain open throughout the pandemic.

The grants are being funded by Virginia Rapid Response, which is designed to prevent or minimize the duration of unemployment resulting from a crisis like the ongoing outbreak.

Who's eligible to apply for the grants?

Small businesses in the counties of Rockbridge, Augusta, Rockingham, Bath, Highland, Shenandoah, Page, Frederick, Clarke, and Warren and the cities of Lexington, Buena Vista, Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Winchester can apply.

Small businesses, for this program, are defined as businesses with 250 or fewer employees.

Details of how the grant process will work

Grant funding is available on first-come, first-served basis and will be awarded to businesses by reimbursing them for documented expenditures.

According to the SVWB, the reimbursement process, timeline, and details of what documentation will be required will be discussed and finalized with businesses during the application process.

Performance measures, like the number of jobs saved, estimated amount of annual wages saved, and project-specific results, will be required in the application.

Who and what gets priority?

Targeted industries – including manufacturing, health care, transportation and logistics, and construction – will be given priority.

Also given priority will be businesses using additional funding resources for innovative solutions.

How can the funds be used?

The grants can be used for a variety of options, like to increase cleaning and sanitization services or purchase software, supplies, laptops, or smartphones to facilitate remote work. Innovative layoff aversion strategies like converting brewery or distillery operations into the production of hand sanitizer are encouraged.

Generally, any project that helps a small business mitigate COVID-19's impact on workers can be eligible for the grants.

Exceptions to the funding cap may be made based on the number of jobs to be retained, proposed innovative strategies for layoff aversion, and the use of leveraged resources.

The process to apply for the grants

Grants will be awarded until funding is depleted or withdrawn during the period of availability. Funding is available from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020.

For more information and to start the application process, contact Joan Hollen, SVWDB Representative, at jhollen@vcwvalley.com or at 540-442-7134 ext. 100.