A dozen businesses, seeking more than $500,000 in assistance, have applied thus far for financial assistance through the Genesee CARES Business Recovery Fund -- the new program that is providing up to $75,000 to small businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jim Krencik, marketing director for the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and Michael Zimmerman of The Harrison Studio, which is overseeing the initiative, updated Genesee County legislators today at their Ways & Means Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse.
Supported by a $1 million Community Development Block Grant, the program has been created to help businesses with 25 or fewer employees that were hurt by the pandemic to receive grants of up to $75,000. Eligible applicants are for-profit ventures within Genesee County with 25 or fewer employees.
Krencik said the 12 businesses that filled out application forms – which can be found at www.geneseecares.com – have asked for $550,000 in relief.
“If they’re all viable, we’re not sure yet,” he said, while encouraging business owners who have completed applications to follow up to make sure everything is in order.
He added that applications are taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
A crucial element to the process is that these businesses have to add at least one full-time equivalent job.
“Adding one FTE is a large increase (for small businesses),” he said. “Our goal is to have 20 to 40 businesses supported. If we get more, we could apply for additional funding.”
Krencik said businesses can apply for funds in any or all of four categories.
Those categories are as follows:
- Employment Restoration and Job Hiring -- Businesses will be eligible to receive a grant of up to $25,000 per full-time equivalent job position created, restored, or retained, up to a maximum of $60,000.
- Outdoor Dining Development -- Businesses will eligible to receive up to $50,000 in grants to facilitate outdoor dining enhancements. Eligible activities include professional and soft costs, furniture, and equipment, and working capital expenses related to expanding, installing, or improving outdoor dining and gathering spaces. Construction or renovation costs will not be eligible.
- Working Capital -- Businesses will be eligible to receive a maximum of $50,000 of grant funds to be used to assist with working capital expenditures (such as payroll, marketing, rent, utilities, etc.) for businesses that can demonstrate the impact of COVID has put a strain on their cash flow which cannot be met through other funding sources.
- Business Resiliency -- Businesses will be eligible to receive grants of up to $25,000 to support small business efforts to respond to the pandemic. Funds will be used for projects such as developing safety and resiliency plans, purchasing PPE, installing touchless point-of-sale systems, and other improvements to allow for social distances and all businesses to operate safely.
Zimmerman, responding to a question from Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein about agricultural-related enterprises, said that as long as the business meets the requirements (for profit and 25 or fewer employees), they should be eligible.
“The use of the funds is a pretty broad net,” he said, “and cover most business needs. I imagine (that a farming business) could find working capital needs to which to apply the grant funds.”
To be considered for the first round of approvals, applications must be submitted no later than March 9.
In related action, the Ways & Means Committee approved a resolution to create a line item in the county's budget to reimburse eligible expenses.