State tweaking requirements for small business pandemic-relief program

The Indiana Department of Economic Development on Wednesday said it was changing the eligibility requirements for a $31 million grant program to help small businesses struggling during the pandemic, in hopes of generating more applications.

The state launched the Small Business Restart Fund in June to help companies with fewer than 50 employees cover the costs of pandemic-related expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, lease payments for real or personal property, and safety costs, including personal protective equipment and infrastructure improvements.

Most of the funding for the program—$30 million—came from the $2.4 billion the state received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The city of Indianapolis chipped in $1 million of its CARES Act funding for Marion County businesses.

But, to date, fewer than 500 applications have been received, with about $1 million being awarded to 246 small businesses, including 46 owned by minorities and 59 owned by women, in 83 counties.

IEDC Chief of Staff Luke Bosso told IBJ that the low number of grants awarded so far could likely be attributed to a rule that prevented businesses that qualified for the federal Paycheck Protection Program from applying for the Restart Fund.

“That was really the biggest barrier,” Bosso said.

Businesses that received federal support through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan or Community Development Block Grant programs also didn’t qualify for the Restart Fund.

The state initially designed the program that way because it was meant to complement the federal assistance. About 83,000 businesses in Indiana received $9.5 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Under a change announced Wednesday, the state will now allow businesses that received federal assistance, such as the PPP loans, to apply for the Restart Fund grants. The deadline to apply has been extended from Sept. 30 to Nov. 1 for small businesses in Marion County and until Dec. 1 for businesses outside of Marion County.

The CARES Act requires the state to spend its $2.4 billion allocation before the end of the year, so the $30 million in the Restart Fund would need to be distributed by then unless Congress acts to change the parameters of the funding. State officials have been hopeful that the deadline to spend the funding would be extended, but Congress has failed to reach any agreement.

Other eligibility requirements, including that a business must have revenue of less than $5 million and experience at least a 40% drop in revenue because of the pandemic, will still apply. Businesses from any sector are eligible.

Bosso said it’s possible the state would consider increasing the maximum number of employees a business can have in order to qualify, but for now, the cap remains at 50.

“I think there will be a good amount of interest,” Bosso said.

The grants are up to $2,500 per month, with a cap of $10,000, and are based on eligible expenses incurred from March through November. A business that has seen an 80% drop in revenue could receive up to $5,000 per month, but the maximum total grant is still $10,000.

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

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One thought on “State tweaking requirements for small business pandemic-relief program

  1. I am A Small Business Owner of Angels of Hope Home Agency,LLC where we promote jobs & education to CAREGIVERS to provide a variety of SERVICES OF HEALTHCARE to the Sick and Elderly Citizens. We also provide assistance to The front line workers in hospitals setting with relief as they have been doing a exceptional job especially during the Covid-19 Pandemic Times.
    Unfortunately , I’m sad to say that it breaks my ❤️ to know that it has been 8 months of the Pandemic and my Business that provide essential workers have NOT Been able to get Grant assistance, business loan or any type of Stimulus Business Fundings, Donations of any kind. I have started a fundraiser which is Posted on Angels of Hope Home Agency FB Business page😢 to help us keep our doors open to be able to Continue to provide Caregivers with employment and to help assist and make a difference with improving overall health conditions within our Community especially during this Pandemic Times. It breaks my heart to know that an agreement , decision and Solutions can not be made in 8 months times to help the Struggle Small Business owners. AN EMERGENCY STIMULUS CHECK FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS WOULD HELP A GREAT DEAL AT THIS TIME. It Will Keep A lot of us from closing our doors such as myself. 🙏
    Please we ask for your help.
    Karla Nowlin-owner
    Angels of Hope Home Agency,LLC

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