Micro-business grants to help COVID-impacted small business

A Tuesday vote of the Board of Supervisors has made micro-business grants available to qualifying Nevada County businesses.

“This funding will allow us to distribute 43 grants up to $2,500 to the county’s very small local businesses,” said Ariel Lovett, interim project administrator. “This is intended to outreach our hardest to reach small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

A total of $107,500 is available locally, said Lovett.

The intended recipients include artists, childcare, elder care, launderers, food trucks and house cleaners who have fewer than five employees and earn under $50,000 annually. The application period launches today, and will last until March 25. Candidates can apply on the county website: MyNevadaCounty.com/MicroBizGrants.

The board laid the groundwork at the Jan. 25 meeting by passing a resolution while assuring no general fund dollars would be used. The state’s COVID-19 Relief Grant Program fully funds the grants.

Five partners that established a memorandum of understanding will assist in promoting program eligibility — the Economic Resource Council, Grass Valley Downtown Association, Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, Nevada County Arts Council and Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re really grateful to these community organizations who are partnering with us to support small business,” said Lovett. “(Sierra Business Council) made it as simple as possible for easy access. Key elements include online grant applications, identify eligible applicants, support for outreach and promotion, provisions for technical assistance, manage email for applicants and awardees, and distribute funds to awardees by November 30. But we anticipate first applicant awards will be distributed by May. ”

About $8,000 will go toward administrative fees for managing website reporting, and providing technical assistance.

Funds not used by Dec. 1 will return to the county, Lovett said.

“So to make sure that doesn’t happen, we’re working diligently with our partners on outreach and welcome the community’s support with these type of businesses. Meanwhile, we’re open to micro-businesses through many channels. The county is spreading the word and our outreach toolkit is on the county website.”

Supervisor Heidi Hall praised county staff effort.

“I know this is a lot to put together,” she said. “I support SBC handling the grant administration. And I’m particularly interested in making sure it’s a level playing field, making sure people making selections are aware of all the issues, different districts and requirements.”

Supervisor Sue Hoek seconded Hall’s sentiments, adding that COVID-19 presented many challenges to normal business operations but that the program is a great effort and relief and supervisors are excited about the prospect for success.

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at wroller@theunion.com

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