Second round of small business grants available

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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With support from the Obici Healthcare Foundation, the Suffolk Economic Development Authority will be able to offer a second round of grants to city-based small businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19.

The EDA will take applications Sept. 10-30. In this round, home-based businesses will be eligible to apply for a grant of up to $5,000.

Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said the grant is 100% funded by the foundation, which is providing $200,000 for them.

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“They reached out to their service territory,” Hughes said. “They knew there was a need out there and they specifically wanted to do something related to small business support. We shared with them what we were doing with the June distribution. It seemed we were on the same page, and so they ended up modeling the request for application very similar to what we did.”

In the first round of applications, the EDA provided $190,500 in grants to 85 independent businesses.

Grant amounts included $3,700 for 15 businesses, $2,700 for 27 businesses, $1,700 to 32 businesses and $700 for 11 businesses.

The second round of grants will be similar to the first, with some updates related to timing, Hughes said. This time, businesses seeking a grant in the second round must have been open for business by Sept. 1. And like before, they must have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees as of Sept. 1.

The grant money can be used for things such as private utilities, rent or mortgage payments, insurance or similar expenses, operating equipment, COVID-19-related safety equipment or operational expenses, products or services directly used to produce something the business sells or for a service it provides.

“We know that there are some businesses that have opened in the middle of this that were unable to apply in the last go-round,” Hughes said.

Home-based businesses, while eligible for grant money, will only receive reimbursement for pandemic-related safety equipment and/or pandemic-specific operational expenses.

“For home-based businesses, it would be just reimbursements on expenses related to, say, COVID protection and safety,” Hughes said, “so masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, things of that nature. And so we would take that on a case-by-case basis.

“We wouldn’t begin to break down a home-based business and their mortgage, and if that’s home-based or not. We don’t want to get into that business.”

Hughes said they would not be providing grants for payroll.

“We want to know what you paid Dominion, or what you paid your landlord, and keep it real easy,” Hughes said.

Though Hughes said businesses that have received grants can apply again, the EDA “would like to collect as many new applicants as we can and address those before we revisit any second looks from an application standpoint.”

Hughes expects to do a third round of grants around November.

“We’re currently thinking that we’ll do CARES Act funding that came from City Council in the November timeframe of $500,000,” Hughes said. “There’s more opportunities, and if we see a large amount come in on this, we’ll quickly move that into October. … So we think we can fill a lot of needs.”


Want to apply?

Information, qualifications and the grant application can be found on the YesSuffolk website at under the COVID-19 Resources — Small Business Assistant Grant Program. The application for the grant will be open from Sept.10 through Sept 30.