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Merchants split on seeking grants

Staff writer

Reaction to a new program that could provide grants of up to $5,000 or $10,000 to county businesses is mixed. The program’s paperwork has some concerned.

Dennis Maggard, co-owner of Barely Makin’ It antique store in Marion, said he and his partner hadn’t given the grant program much thought but that he’s not sure the amount of the grant would be worth the time it would take to apply.

Barry Allen, owner of Webster’s Auto Service, said after reading the county’s application, he leans toward not bothering to apply.

“I looked at it some, and from what I was reading I thought there was not a good likelihood I would get it,” Allen said.

His shop is starting to get busy again, which helps.

“I was glad to get the payroll protection program,” he said. “That helped a lot.”

On the other hand, some intend to apply.

“I did apply for the grant,” said Donna Rosiere, co-owner of Marion Dry Cleaning.

She applied partly because she didn’t get assistance from any other federal program. She disliked the popular payroll protection plan program because it involved a loan, part of which she might have to pay back.

Cancelations and postponements of weddings, proms, and graduations took a bit out of the dry cleaning business, she said.

Add the fact that people were generally not getting out and about, that meant two months worth of business lost.

Getting supplies now is difficult as well, Rosiere said.

Brent Miles, co-owner of Silk Salon in Marion, said his business would apply and expected to be able to obtain a grant.

“We were closed right at two months,” Miles said.

The county received $117,000 in community development block grant money June 2 to help small businesses retain employees with low to medium income.

The grant can be used for working capital, including wages, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and up to 60 days of inventory needed to reopen.

Under the county’s criteria, businesses with five or fewer employees could get $5,000 grants, and businesses with 6 to 50 employees could get $10,000 grants.

However, in scoring applications, previous assistance, such as forgivable payroll protection plan loans, will diminish an applicant’s likelihood of receiving a grant. That program already has provided more than $8 million in relief to county businesses. The new program will provide only $117,000 after overhead to the grant administrator and contributions to Marion County’ emergency food bank are deducted.

Applicants will get five points if they got no financial assistance from federal programs to assist with COVID-19 economic injury; one point if they got federal support from one source; and zero points if they got support from more than one source.

Points also are given by the percentage of employees whose income falls below low to moderate income levels. The more low-to-moderate incomes employees, the more points the county gives the business on its application. Each employee’s income must be documented.

Application deadline is 5 p.m. July 9.

The cities of Marion and Hillsboro also applied for grants under this program, but their applications were not approved.

South Central Kansas Economic Development district was chosen by the county to administer the grant.

Last modified July 1, 2020

 

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