70 of 169 applicants receive recovery support
By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Forty per cent of applicants to the Chatham-Kent Small Business Recovery Grant will be receiving financial aid as they reopen for business.
Through the municipal grant program, 70 local businesses will each receive $2,857.
In June, council approved $200,000 for COVID-19 relief funding for the program, to be taken from the community projects budget line.
Small businesses, charities and non-profits were eligible to receive between $1,000-$5,000 with the grant.
Mike Grail, co-chair of Chatham-Kent’s Economic Recovery Task Force, advocated to have all the businesses receive the $5,000 maximum and to expand funding amount in the program.
“It’s unfortunate that did not happen but at the end of the day there were a lot of businesses that fell through the cracks from the provincial and federal government. And this will go a long way in helping them have a fighting chance,” he said. “I’m very pleased to see that even though we advocated for a much larger amount.”
Applications were open for two weeks in July, and the committee received 169 applicants.
Forty-nine applicants were not eligible because they received funding relief from other programs.
The committee determined that applicants receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit
(CERB) payments should still be eligible for the grant since the purpose of CERB is to help individuals rather than businesses.
Those receiving federal aid for businesses, wage-subsidies, commercial landlord relief, or Community Futures Development funding were not eligible for the municipal grant.
Thirty-three applicants were rejected because they did not pay commercial taxes or lease from a landlord who paid commercial taxes. That criteria caused 10 out of the 19 charities/non-profits to be ineligible.
Eleven applications were either incomplete or withdrawn. A handful were not accepted because they were not located in Chatham-Kent, did not want to have their names publicly published, and were not official businesses prior to March 17.
Mayor Darrin Canniff said he was very pleased with the outcome of the municipal program.
“We got a call from a business and the owner started crying in a positive way, saying this will help them so much. It makes a big difference for small businesses. It’s the whole difference between them opening up during COVID-19 and staying viable.”
The Economic Recovery Task Force will be morphing into a business advisory group come September.
The task force will disperse after a Sept. 28 information session between council and administration. After that the committee will disband and progress as an advisory group that will be brought in for certain initiatives and ventures that require expertise and proper consultation from the business experts.
Grail said the group will be there “to help make good informed decisions moving forward and to help meet and exceed the growth forecast.”