On Tuesday afternoon, McKinney City Council members unanimously approved their portion of the Tri-City Collin County Small Business Grant Program to save small locally owned businesses threatened by the economic repercussions from the COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s a repercussion currently hitting downtown McKinney. Loco Cowpoke, a salsa shop on the square, recently announced their closing after 12 years in a June 5 Facebook post:

Funded by the CARES Act, the Tri-City grant is a partnership between Allen, Frisco, and McKinney to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Each city is approving a different amount for the individual grants. Frisco city officials, for example, are offering up to $50,000 for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees and no more than $15 million in annual revenue. Applications must be received by noon on June 30

At Tuesday’s council meeting, McKinney council members agreed on similar requirements but voted to offer a lower grant amount of $25,000 so they could help more small businesses with approximately $8 million available in funds. They’re also offering a later deadline for small business owners to submit their application. The deadline to apply is July 8. 

“We’ve been adamant about exhausting all sources to get more grant funding into the hands of our small businesses,” Mayor George Fuller said in a June 18 press release announcing the proposal of the new grant program. “The $1 million dollar McKinney Strong grant program was the first step to keep lights on and we hope the Tri-City grant will sustain our county’s economy through this time and set in motion lasting recovery.”

Fuller has been seeking relief for McKinney’s small businesses since the COVID-19 nonessential business shutdowns in March. He began appearing at board meetings and reaching to other organizations to find a way to help stifle the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19. More than 20.5 million people are currently unemployed, according to the Labor Department’s most recent figures. It’s a number that could continue to rise as the virus begins to reach pandemic levels again.

In late April, Fuller appeared at the McKinney Community Development Corporation meeting and requested money for a program that would eventually become part of the Tri-City Collin County Small Business Grant. “Actually, I’m going to ruin your morning and tell you that we’re asking for a million dollars,” he told board members. “… The need that will be out there is far greater than what we’re going to be able to meet.

“There’s no greater way to support local than what we’re talking about right now,” he added. “This is the most important thing to our council right now.” 

Fuller says they were able to raise nearly $3 million from various entities. The $2 trillion CARES Act is providing another $5 million in grant funds available to small businesses in McKinney. 

Unlike the McKinney Strong Grant Program for Small and Home-based Businesses, the Tri-City grant program has a more complex application process but more ways to qualify for funds. Some of the requirements include: 

  • Businesses must have been started prior to March 1, 2019.
  • Must have 100 or fewer employees per business location.
  • Business must be within McKinney’s incorporated boundaries.
  • If you have more than one business, you are eligible to apply for up to three of those businesses within city limits. (Ownership is defined by at least 20 percent.)
  • Elected city officials and their immediate relatives are not eligible to receive grant funds.

In late April, Fuller summed up the dire need for a grant program like the Tri-City Collin County Small Business Grant to MCD board members: “At the end of this pandemic, the more businesses standing, the better off we are as a city in every aspect, not just economically, not just sales tax dollars but our quality of life. 

“If this [downtown] square is empty, or half empty, or a third empty at the end of this, that is a tragedy.”

Click <here> for more information about the McKinney Strong or the Tri-City grant programs.

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Christian McPhate

Christian has been working as a freelance journalist in North Texas for more than a decade. His stories have appeared in the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, and Rolling Stone magazine. He covers a...