Arkansas Opens Up $50 Million Grant Program To Help Small Businesses During COVID-19

At GrantNews, we’ve written quite a bit on the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic (and measures that have been taken as a result) have had on small businesses. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to look at the numbers and seeing the sheer amount of small businesses that have gone out of business, seen devastating deficits, or are on the verge of closing. Several state governments and local governments have had to try and figure out a solution to mitigate the damage, which is why we’ve seen CARES act funded Small Business Grant Programs announced in states and counties all over the country. And now Arkansas is the latest state to announce a $50 million small business grant program aimed at ensuring hospitality and service sector businesses can stay afloat.

Stacy Hurst, Arkansas Secretary for Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced this grant program last week, saying:

We settled on this approach, which is a business interruption grant. And we’re hoping that we can get some money to those that need it most to help them stay afloat a little longer in this COVID economy.”

Here’s how this grant program will work:

Arkansas businesses who have 250 employees or less may seek reimbursement for business expenses related to COVID-19 mitigation or certain listed interruption expenses due directly to local, state, or federal government COVID-19 related directives. But there are limits to how these funds can be spent.

On how these funds can be spent Secretary Hurst says that:

The federal guidelines require that we use or grant the money out in a certain way. And so, the way that we will be allowing application is for expense reimbursement, and there are specific expenses that are allowed by the feds that businesses can claim reimbursement for. It’s not a revenue replacement program, but we can cover lost revenue to the extent that your business has been impacted, for example, from COVID.

The Secretary spoke on eligibility requirement for these grant funds:

So, our formula is this: that we will allow businesses that are eligible to apply for reimbursement on certain expenses. And then, we will also look at the change in sales tax revenue from 2019 to 2020. So, for those businesses that are eligible, DF&A will provide sales tax revenue from 2019 to 2020 and we’ll look at the change. So, that will be an indicator of economic impact.”

Grant funds will hopefully be able to provide some much-needed relief for the beleaguered small businesses of Arkansas and help them to survive through this continuing pandemic.

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