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EDA to offer small business grants

The Suffolk Economic Development Authority board has approved a new grant program designed to support small businesses in the city that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19.

Qualified businesses impacted the most by the pandemic and associated executive orders from Gov. Ralph Northam could qualify for a one-time grant of up to $5,000, which can be used for things such as private utilities, rent, insurance or operating expenses.

Qualifying for-profit city businesses must have been operating before Jan. 1 and not have more than 50 full-time employees as of March 24. The businesses must have experienced losses in operating hours, revenue and/or made staff reductions due to the executive orders, and be in good standing with local taxes and licenses.

The program will continue until the $200,000 in funds have been appropriated. The money is available in the current budget, according to Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes.

Assistant Economic Development Director Gregory Byrd said applicants would be asked if they had received federal Paycheck Protection Program funds, and that could be used as a potential tiebreaker between two competing applications to determine how to allocate grant money.

Hughes said the program would be promoted on its social media pages, the YesSuffolk website and sent out by email to more than 3,500 people.

“We think that’ll give us a good push to get it out there,” Hughes said.

He said discussions with city nonprofits have begun with the idea of offering this program multiple times throughout the year, if needed, possibly offering larger amounts of grant money.

“We see this as a really good test case, an exercise to maybe work out some bugs with some things,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the EDA did not want to make the grant money a first-come, first-served program, because some businesses are doing everything with just one or two people.

For more information on the program, contact Byrd at 514-4042 or at SuffolkEDA@suffolkva.us. Information about the program can be found at www.yessuffolk.com/DocumentCenter/View/389/Combined-COVID-19-Policy-and-Application.