Financial aid on the way for businesses in the town of Watertown affected by the pandemic | Business
WATERTOWN – Local small businesses that continue to drive financial problems caused by the pandemic will soon receive help, thanks to federal funding from the Federal CARES Act.
City council has set aside between $ 400,000 and $ 450,000 in grants from the CARES Act to help financially struggling small businesses weather the pandemic.
In January, council members asked the planning department to set up the program after hearing that the city’s businesses needed help, rather than spending most of the $ 720,000 in funding for the city. CARES Act on other programs.
Planners spoke with officials in Rochester, Auburn and Dunkirk, near Buffalo, to see how they implemented programs for small businesses with funding from the CARES Act.
City planner Geoffrey T. Urda said he hoped the program would roll out in early summer.
“We want businesses to know about the program so that they are ready to submit an application,” he said.
The city planning department and the Watertown Local Development Corp. still work on the program settings.
Businesses must be located in the city, be independently owned and not a franchise or company-owned chain to qualify. They must also have been in operation before January 1, 2020, must still be open today, have fewer than 25 employees, and must retain at least one employee from the grant.
The funding could be used for unpaid working capital expenses such as rent, insurance, utilities, and other accounts payable. Businesses couldn’t use the grants to fund the payroll, so it wouldn’t duplicate the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, said Michael A. Lumbis, director of urban planning and community development.
The grant amount has not yet been determined, but Auburn has distributed grants of $ 3,000 to $ 5,000 to about 50 small businesses to help them survive the financial crisis caused by the pandemic.
While the planning staff would administer much of the program’s work with the comptroller’s office to oversee the distribution of funds, the local development corporation, also known as the Watertown Trust, would take responsibility for taking requests and reviews. verification process before providing the city with an approval recommendation for each application.
Watertown Trust CEO Donald W. Rutherford said he was not sure how many companies would apply for the program.
“We will have to wait and see until it is deployed,” he said. “I really do not know.”
In July, Congress approved the CARES Act program to help communities navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Funding for the CDBG came from the $ 2 trillion stimulus package to help municipalities weather the coronavirus crisis.
The CARES Act money also provides four organizations with $ 25,000 each for their pantries and backpack programs. The city has set aside $ 100,000 for the Salvation Army, the Community Action Planning Council, the Urban Mission for Pantry and United Way for its student food backpack program in the district. city school.