Starting Monday, Nevada small businesses and nonprofits have until Nov. 2 to apply for grant money through the state to help with a variety of needs including rent, payroll or purchasing personal protection equipment.
Gov. Steve Sisolak and Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine announced Wednesday that the state is directing $20 million of coronavirus relief funding to its pandemic emergency technical support grant program, which will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis with a priority toward minority-owned businesses as well as certain businesses most impacted by the pandemic, like bars and taverns.
“The application process is open for two weeks. We get all the applications for two weeks and then we’re able to put them into buckets by prioritization and then the funding goes through until it runs out,” Conine said.
If more businesses apply than available funding, something Conine doesn’t anticipate based on other programs, he said the the Legislature will be approached about additional funding.
“We anticipate getting money out the door about two weeks after the application process ends,” Conine said. “These funds will cover about 2,000 Nevada businesses at the funding level.”
Small businesses and nonprofits can get up to $10,000 while arts and culture organizations and Chambers of Commerce can receive up to $20,000. Businesses who have received money through the Paycheck Protection Program, which was part of federal coronavirus relief, aren’t excluded from applying.
“The goal was to provide assistance to different groups who haven’t received funding, and arts and cultural organizations haven’t received and haven’t had access to other programs so for a lot of them this will be the first program they can apply for,” Conine said. “The Chamber of Commerce piece is a little different. They are helping us to spread the word about the program and other aid program as well as providing other services. What we’ve learned is with the more hands we have on deck helping small businesses to fill these out and understand what they need to provide to get the information they need, the better off we are … We wanted to make sure they had the tools they needed to help get applications filled out and spread the word.”
In order to be eligible, businesses can’t have more than 50 employees, needed to gross less than $4 million in revenue, have been operational in Nevada prior to March 1, have a physical location in the state, and can’t be deemed illegal at a federal level.
While Sisolak said the grant is designed for all businesses “to bridge the gap until the health crisis is over,” the program is prioritizing some that have been hit harder by the pandemic.
“It is important to prioritize some of the small businesses who have been hit the hardest by this pandemic such as our disadvantaged businesses defined as women, minority, veteran and disability owned businesses,” Sisolak said.
National reports have noted that minority-owned businesses, more specifically Black owned businesses, have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.
An August report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found the number of active business owners fell overall by 22 percent nationally, with Black owned businesses dropping 41 percent and Latinx businesses declining by 32 percent.
Sisolak also noted the food & beverage industry has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“That’s why we have made sure that Nevada’s bars, pubs, taverns, breweries, distilleries and vineyards are prioritized for access to this grant money,” he added.
The pandemic emergency technical support grant program isn’t the first assistance the state has allocated for businesses.
Over the summer, Conine announced $20 million of relief money would be directed to help commercial businesses with rental assistance.
While their efforts will help thousands of businesses, he stressed there needs to be additional relief at the federal level.
Talks around an additional stimulus package have stalled after President Trump announced he was halting negotiations. Even though he has since tweeted the need for a bigger stimulus package, Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who declined to vote on two relief bills passed by the House, said an additional package is unlikely before the election.
“We desperately need help from our federal government for additional support — coronavirus relief funds and other things — to make sure we can help small businesses,” Conine said. “We need help with rental assistance and infinite other needs. So we encourage everyone to push on your federal delegation and on the president for additional help.”