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Carroll rebounds: County to dole out $4M in coronavirus relief funding to businesses, nonprofits

Carroll County is using $4 million of its federal CARES (coronavirus relief) Act funding in an effort to lift up small, local businesses and nonprofits, and more than 100 applicants have reached out since the county began accepting applications last week.

Carroll County Government received $14.6 million in coronavirus relief funding in May, and part of that money was used to establish Carroll Rebound. Through Carroll Rebound, grants will be given to businesses and nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Carroll County Department of Economic Development is reviewing applications, and its director, Jack Lyburn, is signing off on each one, with the help of staff. He said as of 8 a.m. Thursday they’d received 110 applications.

“I hope we give the $4 million away and the businesses all survive,” Lyburn said Thursday. “These small businesses are really hurting.”

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Grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded to sole proprietors, up to $5,000 for nonprofits, up to $5,000 for businesses with two to 10 full-time equivalent employees, and up to $8,000 for businesses with 11 to 50 full-time equivalent employees, according to a county news release. Applicants must have established their business or nonprofit prior to Sept. 1, 2019. A full list of eligibility requirements and online applications are available at carrollbiz.org/carrollrebound.

Denise Beaver, deputy director of economic development, clarified Thursday what she said has been a point of confusion for some applicants. Sole proprietors and businesses need to have a minimum of two full-time equivalent employees outside of the owner, and have a physical location in a commercial or industrial zone, Beaver said.

Lyburn said reviewing applications is not a picking-and-choosing process. If someone meets the criteria, they’ll get the money, he said.

He hopes to begin mailing checks after the application portal closes July 15 at 5 p.m. Lyburn estimates the funding could serve up to 650 applicants.

“I’m hoping this will really help,” he said.

Picnic tables for restaurants and cleaning services are some of the requests Lyburn has come across in review. Lyburn said he’s been working nights and weekends to process applications as quickly as possible.

Eligible grant uses, according to the release, include: information technology upgrades and e-commerce programs, marketing, employee training, commercial cleaning, professional services, equipment or vehicle expenses and other COVID-19 business and health-related expenses, such as personal protective equipment, supplies, Plexiglass shields, and masks.

The Carroll Rebound money cannot be used for wages, lease or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, and expenses not related to COVID-19 pandemic impacts, the release states.

This isn’t the first chance local businesses have had to apply for funding through the county. On March 31, the Board of Commissioners created the Carroll County Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund. Hundreds of checks for $1,250 apiece were sent out after the commissioners granted approval to utilize an unused economic development fund of approximately $850,000 for the program.

Businesses that received money through the county’s small business relief grant fund are still able to apply for Carroll Rebound, the release states. Businesses that benefited from other local, state, or federal grant programs are also eligible, though a listing of previous grant awards is part of the application, according to the release.

Carroll Rebound applicants must provide financial and employment verification documents and, if awarded, sign a grant agreement, and provide an IRS W-9 and an electronic transfer fund form, the release states.

Those with questions about Carroll Rebound can email info@carrollbiz.org.

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