ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page introduced a small business relief program amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funds will be provided by the federal CARES Act grant. The county received nearly $174 million from the federal grant. About 10% will go to the small business relief program.
The small business relief program applies to businesses in the county that have been most impacted by stay-at-home orders. The grant can be used for reopening costs, any utilities and costs associated with social distancing changes such as installing plastic shields to reduce the risk of transmission between customers and employees.
The grant will provide each eligible business up to $15,000. The program will award a maximum total of $2.5 million in grants per County Council district. Additional funding may be provided in the future, the county said.
All applications for the program are public information and will be on the transparency portal on stlcorona.com, Page said.
Here’s how it works, according to the county:
The process for awarding small business relief grants will incorporate community input to guide grant awards to the small businesses that need financial relief the most.
Grants will be awarded to businesses based upon recommendations received from the council member and, where applicable, mayor of the municipality where the business’s principal place of business is located.
Each council member will submit a single recommendation for all grants to businesses located in the member’s district before June 1.
An independent accounting firm will review and evaluate all recommendations of Council members to confirm applicants have met all the program requirements. That firm will then certify to the County Executive and the Council’s Oversight Committee that the applicants have met the program requirements. All grants will be paid directly from St. Louis County to the recipient business.
The council member recommendations must follow program requirements. If a council member submits a recommendation that exceeds the budgeted amount for their district, the independent accounting firm will adjust the recommended grant awards so that the recommendation meets the budget.
Eligibility: A business is eligible for a small business relief grant if the business (including for-profit entities, sole proprietorships, and nonprofit organizations) has its principal place of business in St. Louis County, had 50 or fewer full-time employees as of March 1, and was closed during the stay-at-home order.
No business may receive a grant if the business has a director, officer, employee, agent, or sub-contractor that is an elected or appointed official of St. Louis County, an elected or appointed official of any municipality within St. Louis County, or is a member of the immediate family of any such elected or appointed official.
In considering whether to award a grant, no person involved shall unlawfully discriminate against any business because of race, creed, religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, disability or any unlawful basis.
Any business that is considered to not be in good standing with St. Louis County (for example, not complying with the stay-at-home order or having retaliated against a person who reported violations to St. Louis County) will be disqualified from receiving a grant under the program. A nonprofit organization that operates a place of worship shall not be disqualified from receiving a grant under this program on that basis alone, according to the county’s website.
The County will provide Council members with recommendation forms.
Each Council member must submit the recommendation form containing all grant recommendations for businesses located within their district. The form must be signed by the council member and must also be signed by the chief executive of the relevant municipality. In the event the chief executive officer of a municipality does not sign the recommendation, the council member must explain why that signature is not included or the entire recommendation form will be considered non-responsive. An independent accounting firm will immediately begin reviewing and evaluating recommendations.
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