CORONAVIRUS

State business relief program to hit $94 million

Gov. Kim Reynolds announces updates on COVID-19 in Iowa on Friday, April 24, 2020 in Johnston. Gov. Reynolds permitted s
Gov. Kim Reynolds announces updates on COVID-19 in Iowa on Friday, April 24, 2020 in Johnston. Gov. Reynolds permitted statewide health systems to resume elective procedures as well as farmers markets under distancing parameters starting April 27. Reynolds stated the end of April as when the current “bulk of declarations” on business closings will expire.

DES MOINES — More than 3,800 small businesses in Iowa have received $71 million designed to help them through a coronavirus pandemic that triggered government-ordered closings after the respiratory disease was detected in the state in March.

And officials in the Iowa Economic Development Authority — the state agency administering the small business relief program — plan to distribute another $23 million in funding supplemented by a share of Iowa’s $1.25 billion in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act economic stimulus money to businesses reeling from the COVID-19 epidemic.

The state program — which drew requests for $148 million in assistance when it was unveiled in April — offers eligible small businesses grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. That’s in addition to providing them with a deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes due and waiver of penalty and interest.

To be eligible for a small business relief grant, businesses must have experienced disruption due to the pandemic and have employed between two and 25 people before March 17.

“We just awarded our 20th round and will continue to do so until funds are exhausted,” said Kanan Kappelman, spokeswoman for the state economic development authority.

She did not have a timeline for when the entire $94 million in government assistance would be distributed to eligible recipients.

A total of 1,268 businesses received awards totaling $24 million in the first bloc of grants, followed by $27.2 million distributed to 1,417 eligible businesses in the second funding wave.

Currently 1,129 businesses have received $19.9 million in the latest batch of awards.

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A list of businesses with between two and 25 employees receiving state grants has been posted at iowabusinessrecovery.com.

“We know that companies are needing these funds as soon as possible, and so we’re trying to get the funds out but yet proceed with all the compliance items,” Kappelman said.

The relief program money comes at a time when restaurants, malls, fitness centers, hair salons and other businesses in all of Iowa’s 99 counties have resumed or are making cautious preparations to reopen operations as Gov. Kim Reynolds takes a phase-in approach to restarting Iowa’s struggling economy hard hit by shutdowns and temporary employee layoffs or furloughs.

Mandy DeVries, owner of Fusion Salon and Spa in Davenport — a $25,000 grant recipient in the April 9 third round of relief program grant awards — said the money helped her rehire employees and purchase products and supplies needed to reopen with expanded hours at 50 percent capacity this month.

Speaking during Reynolds’s Wednesday media briefing, DeVries said the governor closure order in March “brought a flood of emotion,” but now she’s happy to be back in business after a “soft opening.”

“As of this Monday, we are fully operational with extended hours and staff members,” she said. “I can say confidently that our staff and clients are thrilled that we are open for business.”

The state grants are intended as a stopgap measure to assist eligible businesses — especially those in “consumer-facing” industries” — maintain operations or reopen. The funds may not be used to pay debts incurred before March 17, according to state officials.

Every application received was reviewed for complete information, eligibility and economic need, Kappelman said. The screening process included an assessment of each applicant’s projected revenue loss for the period of March 15 to April 15 as supported by the applicant’s financial documentation.

Priority was given to businesses demonstrating the greatest projected revenue losses.

Businesses offering adult entertainment were considered ineligible for assistance.

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If a business received a federal Payment Protection Program loan, the loan amount was added as replacement revenue to the estimated revenue loss for March 15 to April 15 period as submitted on the application, Kappelman said.

Businesses with a remaining revenue loss after the PPP loan amount was applied were eligible to receive a state relief grant.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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