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Small businesses of all types and from all kinds of industries have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. A national survey of 5,800 small business conducted by researchers from Columbia University found that 43 percent had to temporarily close at some points and nearly 75 percent only had enough cash to last two months at most, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

In late March, President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Congress passed the $2 trillion relief package with bipartisan support. It offered American workers relief with economic impact payments while providing small business with Personal Paycheck Protection loans. About 84 percent of small business employees, or 51.1 million jobs, have utilized the funds, according to the Paycheck Protection Program Report by the U.S. Small Business Adminstration.

Many small-business owners — particularly minority-owned businesses — claim they were denied small loans while larger businesses were awarded millions. In Texas, a full spectrum of businesses received the money from restuarants (3,600 of the 52,150 loans more than $150,000) to physicians offices (1,941 loans), the Texas Tribune reported in early July.

Now, as Congress remains at an impasse passing new federal relief, the Collin County Commissioners Court has stepped up to help by enacting the Collin CARES Small Business Grant Program, offering up to $25,000 in funding from the $15 million in federal CARES Act funding set aside for the new grant program.

Small businesses in Collin County who have lost more than 15 percent of their gross revenue as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic can apply on the Collin County website starting today until Friday, Sept. 25.

“Small business is the backbone of our economy and promotes independence and the American dream. Thank you for helping to keep these small businesses afloat,” a Collin County resident posted on Collin County Judge Chris Hill’s Facebook page shortly after Judge Hill announced approval of the grant program in late August.

Collin CARES Small Business Grant Program is available to for-profit small businesses located in Collin County who have less than $5 million in gross revenues and fewer than 100 full-time employees. Businesses must describe how they plan to use the money if they are approved. They must also submit a 2019 Schedule C or business tax return and have been located in the county for at least six months before March 1, 2020.

“Eligible business expenses include payroll, rent, utilities, contract labor, and supplies,” Judge Hill posted Aug. 25 on Nextdoor.com. “COVID-19 business expenses, such as personal protective equipment, will also qualify.”

Business owners can only apply for grant funding for three common ownership businesses. The grant program also excludes certain businesses such as lobbying and political groups, banks, lending and financial institutions, rent or income-producing properties, pawn shops, medical providers, and age-restricted businesses except for firearm dealers.

Eligible small businesses owners could receive up to $5,000 unless they provide documentation showing actual incurred costs of up to the $25,000 maximum.

The grant money can only be used for specific expenses for each business such as payroll and benefits like retirement and health insurance, fixed overhead costs for non-personal residence properties, utility costs and contract labor. The money can also be used for COVID-19 related improvements and associated costs such as personal protection equipment, sanitation supplies and touchless technology.

After the application is received, it will be reviewed and if they meet all required standards, funds will be electronically issued on a “first come, first serve basis.”

To apply visit https://www.collincountytx.gov/cares/Pages/SmallBusinessGrants.aspx

Danny Gallagher

Danny Gallagher is a writer based in Dallas. His stories and features have appeared in and on CNET, Cracked, MTV Online, Mandatory.com, Retro Gamer, Esquire and The Dallas Observer.