Article by: Allison Wagner
On July 14, 2020, the Houston County Board of Commissioners allocated $1,130,000 of County CARES Act Funds to be disbursed to local small businesses in the form of an economic development relief grant to partially reimburse the cost of business interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. La Crescent Township also allocated dollars towards this program.
CEDA team member, Allison Wagner, who serves as the Houston County EDA Director, worked with the Houston County Economic Development Board to create the Houston County CARES Business Relief Grant. Wagner was tasked with creating a timeline, drafting the application, advertising the grant, answering questions from applicants, and performing the initial review of each grant application.
The program opened in August, and 252 grant applications were received by the final October 30th deadline. Eligible businesses included registered or licensed State businesses in good standing, nonprofits with a physical brick-and-mortar building, sole proprietors, and farmers.
Due to the high number of applicants, Houston County allocated additional dollars and ran three application rounds so that all 242 of the eligible grant applicants could be awarded a total of $1,157,166.36 in grant funds.
The impressive number of applicants and amount of funding awarded was due largely to the enthusiasm of those who found out about the program. Wagner says, “I am proud of how our businesses in Houston County have been creative and adaptable though the pandemic, not only in their own places of business, but also when it comes to helping neighboring businesses. It was the businesses who helped the EDA spread the word about the grant opportunity.”