Tarrant County has allotted $30 million for financial assistance to small businesses in the county that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus closure orders. The funds are part of the $2 Trillion CARES Act passed by Congress and signed by the president in late March.
Online applications for businesses should open next Monday, June 1 and close on June 24.
The grants are available for up to $10,000 per business. Owners of multiple businesses can not apply for more than one award.
Some of the grant criteria include:
- 25 or fewer full-time employees
- A loss of income since March 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 health emergency
- No delinquent property taxes, tax liens, or judgments
- Registered with the State of Texas
- Physically located within Tarrant County (Fort Worth has its own grant programs for businesses within its city limits.)
- Costs incurred between March 1 and May 31
20 percent of the grant funds, $6 million, will be set aside for businesses owned by women, minorities, or veterans.
A business’s grant total will be based on a calculation of the greater of one month’s average payroll costs for the first quarter of 2020 or two months’ average fixed costs for the first quarter of 2020.
Applications will be reviewed for acceptance and required documentation by the Tarrant County Auditors.
The proposal initially would have made grant funds available for eligible uses between March 1 and September 30. However, County Judge Glen Whitley raised concerns about whether that time period would be allowed under the CARES Act requirements.
The CARES Act guidance allows for local government “expenditures related to the provision of grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures.”
As Whitley pointed out, the governor lifted restrictions on some business closures starting May 1 and more on May 18 so that the eligible business interruption costs listed in the CARES Act guidance may not extend to September 30.
The grant proceeds can be used by businesses to pay expenses like payroll, rent, or mortgage payments for real property and business property like equipment, sanitation supplies, utilities, and interest on debt obligations.
Certain businesses will not be eligible for the grants including national chain franchisees, real estate developers, hobby businesses, multi-level marketing concerns, gambling operations, lobbyists, lending and investment businesses, and sexually-oriented businesses.
Denton County launched a similar grant program called OPEN (Operational Plan for Economic Normalization) for its businesses starting May 13. The application process for the $2.2 million in available grant funds ended on May 20. It plans to offer additional grant programs in the coming weeks.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.