The Kent County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to move $370,000 of CARES ACT relief money into two grant funds to help the county’s small businesses endure the COVID-19 pandemic.

News of the new grants come five weeks after the Commissioners voted to issue 85 grants worth $1,000 to help businesses that were ineligible to receive money from federal or state programs. The money was drawn from the County’s revolving loan fund.

“We were very fortunate to be able to give out those initial grants,” said Commissioner Ron Fithian in a brief interview. “And this new round of relief couldn’t come any sooner because we know our businesses are struggling in this unprecedented time in our history. We are elated that we can help when it’s most needed.”

The County was awarded nearly $3.4 in federal CARES Act funding in May to deal with the pandemic and the funds were split evenly between Kent County government and the Kent County Health Department. The county has leeway to use its share of the funds to help businesses.

The Kent Cares for Growth Fund Grant has $200,000 available on a first-come-first-serve basis to help businesses modernize and upgrade to survive the post-COVID-19 business environment. Grants are available up to $5,000. The funds must be spent within 90 days, and qualified businesses must have 2-50 workers or a physical storefront serving customers in Kent County. 

The businesses will be required to show that implementations made with the grant funds remain “operational” six months after receiving the grant. Applications are available beginning June 29, 2020, at 10 a.m. and close on July 10, 2020, at 5 p.m. 

The funds are targeted to help with operational improvements like paperless billing,  e-commerce and online ordering. Go here to see the full list of eligible expenses and terms and conditions. 

Funds from the Growth Grant cannot be used to replace lost revenue and there are some exclusions.

COVID Modification Reimbursement Grant, also a first-come-first-serve grant, is worth up to $2,500 and comes in the form of reimbursement for “COVID friendly” expenses like sanitation supplies, protective equipment and physical modifications made by businesses to reduce further spread of COVID-19. Businesses will be required to provide receipts for qualified expenses. Applications will be accepted from June 22, 2020 at 10 a.m. thru  July 3, 2020, at 5 p.m. Total funds available come to $125,000.

Go here to see the terms and conditions of the Modification Grant.

Both grants do not have to be paid back.

Both grants exclude: Home-based businesses with no employees, real estate investment entities, rental properties, direct selling consultants, firms involved in lending activities, County employees, county appointed board and commission members, and religious objectives.

The commissioners also set aside roughly $41,000 to hire a consultant to help Kent businesses access and comply with federal, state and county programs for COVID-19 relief.