Small businesses in Idaho have received more than $ 30 million in coronavirus assistance so far, with another $ 270 million available.
Starting today, entrepreneurs and independent contractors can also apply for grants, which are intended to provide emergency funds for businesses that have not accessed other federal coronavirus programs.
That was one of the issues discussed by Governor Brad Little and state budget director Alex Adams on Tuesday, during the governor’s weekly COVID-19 telephone town meeting with AARP Idaho.
Adams, who is also chair of the Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee, noted that the money for small business grants came from the $ 2 trillion in Coronavirus assistance, the Security Assistance and Security Act, or CARES Act, which Congress approved in March.
Part of Idaho’s actions is $ 1.25 billion. Based on a recommendation from the Idaho Rebounds economic advisory committee, Little set aside $ 300 million to help small businesses.
More than 4,400 companies have submitted grants totaling $ 10,000 so far, Adams said, and around 3,400 have been approved. Unless there are problems with documents, he said, it only takes about 48 hours from the time the application is submitted until the money is deposited in the company account.
Grants are available for small businesses with as many as 50 employees, depending on certain conditions. Specific requirements can be found online, at rebound.idaho.gov.
The program is now extended to independent contractors and self-employed individuals with as many as 15 employees. Grants are limited to $ 7,500 for a single owner, but can reach $ 10,000 for businesses that have employees.
The deadline for applying for first-come, first-served grants is July 17, depending on available funding.
In addition to the $ 300 million for small businesses, $ 153 million in coronavirus funding has been set aside to help cities, counties and state institutions offset the costs associated with fighting the virus.
The money cannot be used to replenish local tax revenue lost during the economic closure, Adams said, but it can help cover unexpected expenses associated with the virus.
“The next thing the advisory committee will see is how to use funds (the CARES Act) to expand Idaho broadband capacity,” he said. “We are working on it now, getting feedback from stakeholders, so we can submit strong proposals. We know how important broadband is for tele-health and long-distance work skills. “
Health service providers, especially in rural areas, can also be aligned for some funding.
“One thing we talked about was setting aside money for medical providers,” Adams said. “The Ministry of Health and Welfare has some information about how different classes of providers – from hospitals to service providers (disabilities) – have been affected by the pandemic. We look at setting aside some money for those who have reached the limit, so we don’t lose access, especially in rural Idaho communities. “
Other issues discussed during Tuesday’s town hall meeting include:
Plans for Phase 3 reopening – Unless there is a negative trend in the coronavirus case, Idaho is scheduled to move to Phase 3 of the governor’s four-phase economic reopening plan this weekend.
Little said “the overall trend line is going in the direction we want it to be,” but he is not ready to commit to progressing to Phase 3.
“Our plan is based on long-term trends, especially in hospitals and (intensive care) capacity,” he said. “So a one or two day surge in the case – we still don’t want it – but it doesn’t have a significant statistical impact on the trend line. … I think we’re fine, but I don’t want to make a commitment until we see numbers and statistics. “
The latest figures from the state coronavirus website, coronavirus.idaho.gov, showing a slight increase in emergency room visits for COVID-19-like symptoms, from 9.4 per day the first two weeks of May to 10.1 since May 16, when Idaho moved to Phase 2.
Unemployment complaints – Some callers noted that they still had not received unemployment benefits or even received word from the Idaho Department of Labor, more than two months after they first applied.
Little offered his apology, adding that the Department of Labor continued to add staff to try to resolve the deposit guarantee. It has also been contracted with a private call center, to try to provide more resources.
Director of the Department of Labor Jani Revier will join the governor at the AARP Idaho remote conference next week.
“Hopefully at that time we will set up a call center, so they can at least contact you,” Little told a caller. “We added help, a telephone line and a call center to address the problem you just mentioned.”
William L. Spence can be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 791-9168.
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