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County sets aside $400K to help small businesses

The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors has set aside $400,000 of CARES Act funds to help local, small businesses make it through the pandemic.

“We will develop a grant policy and there will be requirements of those small businesses to apply,” Lunenburg County Administrator Tracy Gee said. “It will be a very straightforward and sophisticated experience for them and for us, so that we can determine who is eligible and who is not.”

The grants will be distributed in increments of $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000 depending on the number of employees working for the business. Business with up to 10 employees will be eligible for up to $5,000. Businesses with up to 25 employees can receive up to $7,500. Workplaces up to 50 employees is eligible for $10,000 of grant money.

Supervisor Wayne Hoover said franchises and large businesses would not be eligible for the funds.

“It’s meant for the local business person to help those people who have been impacted the most,” Hoover said. Hoover and Supervisor Alvester Edmonds serve on the committee that determines how the funds will be distributed.

The $400,000 is part of the $1,064,054 allotted to the county by the CARES Act, which stands or Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security. Of the amount, $15,000 went to each of the town’s for COVID-19-related expenses and some of the money was used by the county to upgrade its customer service are in light of the pandemic. Other allocations went to school system, food pantry and to purchase ventilators for the rescue squad.

The money must be spent by the end of the year. Hoover, who is on the committee determining how the funds will be spent, said the county wants to get the money out to businesses quickly and also save some for later in the year as more businesses may feel the economic effects as the pandemic drags on.

“We set $400,000 as the initial amount,” he said. “That allows us to keep some in savings in contingency rather, because again, it’s only July. The pandemic is going to be going on long after December 31. There’s probably going to be a lot of unforeseen circumstances between now and Dec. 31. We don’t want to spend it all right now and then all of a sudden something come up.”

Hoover said if money is left in September or October, the committee will return to the board and allocate the remaining funds to those businesses that are in need.

Gee said the committee is working on an application packet for small businesses.

“I think the grant process for local businesses is an absolute great idea” Supervisor Mike Hankins said. “Businesses in the community can really use a shot in the arm.”