County kicks off business grant program
By Mike Eddleman
Williamson County Commissioners met in a special meeting Friday afternoon to outline the plan for the Wilco Forward Small Business Grant Program.
The program will be funded with $25 million from the $93 million in federal funds the County received through the CARES Act.
This program is what Commissioners are calling Phase 1 of the plan for how to allocate the entirety of federal funds.
The grant can be for a maximum of $30,000 per business, which will be allocated to qualifying businesses in the order applications are received until the funds are exhausted. It is open to for-profit and non-profit businesses, but is intended for sole proprietors and non-franchise businesses with 100 employees or less. Funds received must be used on expenses incurred between March 27 and Sept. 30 of this year.
Applicants will receive grants under one of two options. The first option, set up similarly to the federal Payroll Protection Program, could grant businesses up to one month of their average payroll cost. The second option, based on fixed costs, would consider rent or lease, utilities, and property tax expenses.
Calculations will determine which option best fits a business and will be awarded based on whichever is higher. There will be an adjustment to the amount prioritizing businesses impacted most by COVID-19 stay home orders.
If a business was completely closed it would be eligible for 100 percent, while partially opened businesses would qualify for 75 percent, and those that remained open would qualify for 50 percent.
Officials said they hope to have the application form online at wilco.org by sometime next week, and the deadline for applications would be June 30 or when funds were exhausted.
Businesses can’t have outstanding tax liens or legal judgments, and must have been in business since Feb. 15, 2020.
Funds must be expended by Sept. 30 and documentation for audit must be made available to the County Treasurer’s office to ensure the funds were spent properly.
Ineligible businesses include national franchises, real estate, hobby businesses, sexually oriented businesses, and lending-type businesses such as pawn shops.
Read more on the program and the discussion among Commissioners in crafting this grant program in next week’s issue of The Independent.