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Kent County Commissioners

Commissioners to hire business consultant, approve grants for small businesses

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CHESTERTOWN — The Kent County Commissioners will now offer three grants that eligible businesses and nonprofits may apply for if they have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a June 16 meeting, the commissioners also approved creating a business consultant position to help local businesses negotiate the funds and grants now available. For more information, visit kentcounty.com/business/bussiness-support/incentives/grants.

Economic Development Director Jamie Williams said within the Coronavirus Relief Fund — which was established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act — there is a provision allowing for business assistance programs.

The COVID Modification Reimbursement Grant aims to “help businesses by offsetting some costs associated with physical modifications necessary to do business now like installing plexiglass, sanitizer stations or purchasing masks,” a news release from the Economic Development Department reads.

The grant offers up to $2,500 per applicant. Applications will be accepted from 10 a.m. June 22 to 5 p.m. July 3. It is open to Kent County businesses and nonprofits with two to 250 employees.

The second grant, Kent County CARES for Growth, will “help businesses to invest in technology or business operation enhancements to help pivot through COVID-19 into the future,” the release reads.

The grant offers $5,000. The application window is open from 10 a.m. June 29 to 5 p.m. July 10 for businesses and nonprofits with two to 50 employees.

The final grant, Kent County Marketing Grant, will “provide small businesses with free marketing and consulting services including a 90-day marketing plan and graphics materials,” the release reads.

The grant will have a webinar prior to opening with five marketing tips for reopening. The grant itself opens at 10 a.m. June 22 and closes at 5 p.m. July 10. It is open to for-profit businesses with less than 50 employees.

Williams also recommended the county “utilize a portion of the CARES funding to hire a business consultant” who would work one-on-one with local businesses. For the proposed six-month position, Williams said the county has up to $45,000 to use.

Explaining the importance of hiring a business consultant, Williams said there are a lot of funds and grants that have become available due to COVID-19 that have “evolving and changing guidelines.”

“(The business consultant) would be intimately involved with the businesses and helping them navigate those programs and making sure they are able to meet compliance and have those loans forgiven and become grants to businesses, as opposed to businesses having to owe that money back at the end,” Williams said.

Commissioner Ron Fithian thanked Williams for her work during the coronavirus pandemic.

By dissolving the county’s revolving loan fund into a grant program for businesses in the county, Williams said, so far, the county has been able to help 85 businesses.

“People appreciate it,” Fithian said.

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