The Kent County Economic Development Department will release applications for grants of $1,000 to help Kent’s small businesses, with four or fewer employees, to weather COVID-19 crisis.

Owners are considered employees under the terms of the application.

The Kent Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to release the funds this Thursday, May 7, at 10 a.m.

Applications will be available to fill out online and will take 5 minutes said Kent County Commissioner Ron Fithian in a brief phone interview.

There are 75 grants available on a first-come-first-serve basis and are meant to help those small businesses that have not been able to secure money from state and federal programs.

“It’s very simple to fill out and the first 75 that apply that are qualified will receive grants,” he said. 

Any business that has already received state and federal COVID-19 assistance will not be approved until companies yet to receive assistance are given priority. A question on the application asks applicants if they’ve received state or federal assistance related to COVID-19.

“If there’s any money left over then we’ll go to a second round,” Fithian said. “You won’t be disqualified but you’ll be put aside for consideration if there’s a second round. But I doubt there will be any money left after the first round. There are hundreds of businesses.”

“We wanted to at least reach out and help as many small businesses as we could,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to help everybody and we feel bad about that.”

The money comes from the county’s revolving loan fund and does not need to be paid back.

The idea was initially brought to the Commissioners by Kent Economic Development Director Jamie Williams. 

Fithian said the revolving loan fund never panned out the way it was supposed to “and this $75,000 happens to be left in that account.”

“We really wanted to get out of the loan business and put the money where it was needed,” he said. “There couldn’t be a greater time of need at this point.”

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