Holcomb announces nearly $44M in new programs to help businesses

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration on Friday afternoon announced nearly $44 million in new programs designed to help businesses during the pandemic.

The biggest portion of the funds will go toward a $30 million grant program for small businesses.

The Small Business Restart Fund will provide grants to cover the costs of pandemic-related expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, lease payments for real or personal property, and safety costs including personal protective equipment and infrastructure improvements.

The funding for the program is coming from the $2.4 billion the state received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger said the initiative is meant to complement the federal Paycheck Protection Program, because only businesses that did not qualify for that program are eligible to apply for the Restart Fund.

More than 73,400 Indiana businesses received funding totaling nearly $9.4 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program, according to Schellinger, and he encouraged businesses to continue applying because federal funds are still available.

To be eligible for the Small Business Restart Fund, businesses must have fewer than 50 employees, revenue of less than $5 million and experience at least a 40% drop in revenue because of the pandemic. Businesses from any sector are allowed to apply.

The grants will be up to $2,500 per month for four months, with a cap of $10,000. A business that has seen an 80% drop in revenue could receive $5,000 per month, but the maximum total grant would still be $10,000.

At least $5 million of the $30 million will be reserved for minority- and woman-owned businesses.

Applications for the program are expected to be available next week at backontrack.in.gov.

“We’ll reassess this as we go based on demand,” Schellinger said.

Holcomb said he wants any business that qualifies to apply.

“This is both meant to be a lifeline to those businesses and a bridge, quite frankly,” Holcomb said.

Another program announced Friday will support the state’s manufacturing industry.

The Economic Activity Stabilization and Enhancement Program will use $10 million from the state’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund in three phases.

The first phase will allocate $3 million to provide seed and early-stage investments through Elevate Ventures, the not-for-profit that manages the state’s investments in startups. Those awards, which will become available immediately, will be up to $500,000 and will require a company match.

The second phase will allocate $4 million for grants of up to $200,000 to help companies modernize their technology to improve capacity or to companies investing in health care technology. These grants will also require a company match. Applications are expected to be available in July and initial awards will be made in August.

The third and final phase will allocate $3 million toward establishing lab space to provide companies with access to start-of-the-art manufacturing equipment. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is expected to work with industry stakeholders to develop the Smart Manufacturing Studio Lab and launch it by early 2021.

Luke Bosso, chief of staff for the IEDC, said the Economic Activity Stabilization and Enhancement Program is intended to provide long-term solutions for the state’s manufacturing industry.

Holcomb’s administration also announced Friday that the Indiana Small Business Development Center has received nearly $3.7 million from the CARES Act to provide resources to entrepreneurs and small businesses for the next 18 months.

The funding nearly doubles the amount of federal dollars the organization typically receives and is expected to allow it to expand its free services, such as counseling and training for businesses on topics like financial assistance, e-commerce, adaptation and innovation, disaster resiliency and planning and reopening plans.

“We’re here for you to continue to help you thrive during these very very tough and challenging times,” Schellinger said.

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