State officials have dramatically expanded the amount of money in the state grant program for small businesses with between two and 50 employees.
Originally announced in late March as a pot of $4 million, Iowa Economic Development Authority director Debi Durham today said her agency intends to send $24 million worth of grants to eligible businesses.
“Our small businesses are the backbone of our communities and we are working closely with the governor to leverage resources to assist as many of them as possible,” Durham said.
Nearly 14,000 small businesses applied for the state grants. Durham said 503 of them were notified late yesterday by email that their grant applications were accepted.
“Every application was triaged and I use this word very purposely because triage actually describes this entire effort and this entire process,” Durham said. “We determined eligibility and the businesses identifying the greatest revenue disruption were awarded in this first round of funding that went out last evening.”
Governor Kim Reynolds indicated the first batch of businesses notified overnight were primarily bars, restaurants and breweries who were among the first businesses she ordered to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is absolutely no playbook for the situation that we’re in right now,” Reynolds said late this morning during her daily news conference.
More small businesses around the state will be notified today, tomorrow and Friday, but Durham did not reveal how many businesses in total will get grants. Durham did say the program was designed as “short-term, stop-gap” relief until federal aid came through. A second round of applications for these particular grants will not be opened, according to Durham. But Durham said there may be other programs available in the future for small business owners who applied but do not receive these grants this week.
“Our team at the Iowa Economic Development Authority has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to assist as many of our small businesses as possible,” Durham said.
More than 5,700 Iowa businesses have applied to the Iowa Department of Revenue to defer their tax payments to the state for a couple of months. A state website — www.iowabusinessrecovery.com — lists a number of applications, programs and resources for businesses navigating through the COVID downturn.