The Colusa County Board of Supervisors last week voted unanimously to infuse the local economy with $1 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which was signed into law in March by President Donald J. Trump.
The money will be allocated to four different Community Investment programs, one of which will be in the form of grants to local small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CARES Act established about $150 billion for payments to state and local governments, from which Colusa County was allocated approximately $2.2 million to combat the effects of the pandemic, county officials said at their Aug. 18 regular meeting.
“Other counties have talked about allocating 20 percent of the fund (for community investment), and here we are talking about 50 percent,” said Supervisor Denise Carter. “I think that is really terrific. We’ve kept our cost down (so we can do this).”
Colusa County Chief Administrative Officer Wendy Tyler said the county has spent about $330,000 on COVID-19-related impacts so far, and anticipates a total of about $783,000 to be spent on technology upgrades, personal protective equipment, sanitization, expanded services due to COVID-19, and expanded contact tracing by the end of the year.
“In developing the plan, we knew we needed to address our county costs that we’ve incurred…and loss of revenue from the pandemic,” Tyler said. “These funds will help offset county costs and our response that would otherwise be borne by the general fund or other departmental funds, but probably more important, is we really wanted to see what we couldn’t do to support our businesses.”
Tyler, along with Community Development Director Greg Plucker, with board approval, established the small business grant program that will award a total of $1 million to support local, small businesses (sole proprietors, self-employed) by providing funding to help mitigate the lost revenue due to business interruptions or closure, and other expenses incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding, up to $5,000 for businesses with 1-5 employees, and $10,000 for businesses with 6-25 employees, can be used for expenses related to outside dining, rent or lease payments, utility costs, unemployment insurance costs, PPE and other COVID compliant upgrades.
“This is a grant program,” Tyler said. “It’s not a loan. It does us no good to loan money to businesses who are having a hard time making ends meet.”
The $1 million will be awarded to small businesses in Colusa County, including those in the cities of Willams and Colusa, although national chains, cannabis industry, religious organizations, and gambling establishments are not eligible. And unlike CDBG funds, this program has no income eligibility requirement, nor is the money tied to specific job creation, officials said.
“Our goal would be to get this $1 million out into the community as quickly as we can,” Tyler said.
The money can reimburse businesses for expenditures back to March 27 and must be spent by Dec. 30, Tyler said.
Grant applications will be accepted from Aug. 26 through Sept. 9, and can be completed online or mailed or dropped off at the Colusa County Development Department, 220 12th St.
For more information, visit https://www.countyofcolusa.org/925/Community-and-Economic-Development or call Tana Loudon, at 458-0486.♣