Missoula County will distribute up to $625,000 in grant funding to help local businesses impacted by the pandemic retain jobs for low- and moderate-income employees through the COVID-19 Small Business Job Retention Fund.
Applications will be available online at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10. Qualifying businesses can submit applications at http://missoula.co/jobgrants, and grant funding will be awarded and distributed in January. Complete application packages will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.
The grants will be supported through the Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, which is comprised of Department of Housing and Urban Development funds that are intended to stimulate economic development activity by providing loans and/or grants to create or retain jobs for low- and moderate-income people, meaning individuals or families whose household income is up to 80% of the median income for the area when adjusted for family size.
With the sunsetting of state and federal COVID-19 assistance programs and the slow winter season just around the corner, commissioners allocated a portion of the available CDBG funds to provide working capital grants to help retain jobs and reduce the significant fiscal impact COVID-19 has had on small businesses and the Missoula workforce.
“The pandemic has hit us all hard, and the coronavirus has been especially devastating for small businesses,” Commissioner Josh Slotnick said. “Due to the diligence and creativity of our Grants and Community Programs staff, we are excited to announce the availability of county grant funding specifically for small businesses in Missoula County. We get that this is just a Band-Aid, and that real, sustainable relief means an end to the crisis. This is how we can use federal money to help small businesses at the county level right now, and we’re proud to do it.”
Businesses must meet certain requirements to qualify for the grants, including having 50 or fewer employees, retaining at least one full-time employee who qualifies as low-to-moderate-income, and having no record of violating any COVID-19 health orders issued by the Missoula City-County health officer. Funding must also apply to situations where alternative sources of public and private financing are not available or adequate to stabilize small businesses to prevent layoffs.
Grant awards will range from $10,000 to $25,000 per applicant and will depend on the demonstrated cost of commercial lease, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, payroll expenses and/or inventory costs over the three-month term of the grant award.
Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. The Missoula County Grants and Community Programs Division will review all application packets for eligibility, completeness and demonstrated need for support. The commissioners will then evaluate requests for funding and determine award amounts. Once all fully executed agreements are in place, funds will be released to awardees, with payments anticipated to begin in January 2021.