The Missouri Department of Economic Development is seeking public input before dispersing $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds on small businesses.
The department unveiled draft guidelines for its Small Business Grant Program on Wednesday and plans to open applications for funding in October. The program is aimed at providing assistance to small businesses that have experienced negative economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic since March of last year.
Funding for the program was provided through the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in 2021. Missouri lawmakers then designated $10 million for the Small Business Grant Program, $2 million of which is set aside for minority- or women-owned small businesses.
Although state and federal regulations attached to the funding dictate some of the program guidelines, the Department of Economic Development is also seeking public input on its draft guidelines before they are officially released later this month.
Public survey input will be used to develop the program's official guidelines, such as the minimum and maximum award amounts, eligibility requirements and funding priorities. The survey is open through 5 p.m. Sept. 14.
Under the current draft guidelines, award recipients are eligible for up to $25,000 in funding if they can demonstrate the loss in revenue.
Applicants will be required to submit documentation of the negative economic impact COVID-19 had on their business. Revenue comparisons, gross receipts and tax filings from 2019-21 can indicate the economic decline of businesses, according to the program's draft guidelines.
Applicants must be Missouri-based, for-profit businesses employing fewer than 50 full-time employees. Applicants must also have been operational prior to 2019 or in the process of reopening, and must be independently owned and operated, among other requirements.
Businesses can only submit one application for funding, but a business owner who owns multiple small businesses can complete an application for each business.
Once the funding is received, businesses can spend it on payroll, lease or rent, and any other operating expense after March 3, 2021.
Applications and required documents can be submitted to the department later this month through its online ARPA grant portal.