The Elkhart Common Council approved American Rescue Plan funding for a new small business program Monday.
The city’s department of development services requested $400,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funding to set up the Small Business Continuity Program.
The program is designed to counter the effect of shutdowns, worker shortages, supply chain disruptions and other pandemic-related obstacles on small businesses.
It would provide grants of up to $25,000 for a number of allowable uses – including rent and utility assistance, marketing and promotion efforts, technology upgrades and fixes to signage and facades.
Development Director Dayna Bennett said the goal is to fill gaps left by other COVID-related small business assistance programs.
“We tried to find uses… that are more an investment in the company as opposed to a Band-Aid,” Bennett said at the council meeting Monday. “The uses really are about trying to avoid, within a year, their shutdown.”
Bennett said the state hasn’t fully developed reporting requirements for businesses that receive grants from this kind of program. She said consultants from Baker Tilly are working with her department to implement those requirements as the state creates them.
Bennett said the goal is to create “the lowest threshold possible” for businesses to qualify for the program.
“My goal is to allow as many businesses as possible the ability to apply and not create a burden beyond what’s required by law to prove that eligibility,” she said.
The council approved the funding 7-0. Councilman Kevin Bullard abstained from the vote since he owns a small business in the city.
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