By Brandon Jarvis

A new economic recovery fund totaling $70 million will be available for small businesses to apply for in hopes of receiving relief from the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

Administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), the money will be made available through Rebuild VA, a new economic recovery fund, with grants of up to $10,000 to businesses and nonprofits that qualify.

Governor Northam’s office said that SBSD worked with the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to develop Rebuild VA.

The parameters for the initiative were established in House Bill 1505, which was amended during the reconvened session of the General Assembly to “implement a grant program for certain small businesses affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic public health crisis.”

Criteria for eligibility:

  • Businesses and nonprofits must be in good standing
  • annual gross revenue less than $1.5 million
  • 25 employees or less

“Small businesses and nonprofits are the backbone of the Virginia economy and the bedrock of our communities, and they have been devastated by this ongoing health crisis,” said Governor Northam. “Rebuild VA will help address the vast challenges that small businesses and nonprofits across our Commonwealth are facing as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Because many of the affected small businesses and nonprofits located in distressed and economically disadvantaged areas of Virginia, we are designating a portion of this funding to ensure they get the support they need.”

According to Northam’s office, half of the program funds will be “distributed to eligible small businesses and nonprofits operating in low-income and economically disadvantaged communities.”

The Paycheck Protection Program, a massive nationwide program aimed at relieving the economic burden of the COVID-19 health crisis has been criticized for not helping enough minority-owned businesses in the communities that have been hit the hardest.

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, a small part of the $659 billion that has already been disbursed made it to Black and Latino-owned businesses. Many of these communities have been hit the hardest by COVID-19.

While the companies that received less than $150,000 were not identified, 49,000 restaurant companies received Paycheck Protection Program loans of $150,000 or more, according to recently released federal data. Only 130 of those loans went to restaurants listed as Black-owned businesses, according to a Restaurant Business analysis.

“Access to capital remains the number one challenge for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said SBSD Director Tracey G. Wiley. “At a time such as this, providing funding to the most vulnerable businesses—the unbanked and underserved is our primary objective. The Agency is proud to administer Rebuild VA in partnership with our sister agencies across the Commonwealth.”

If a business is approved for this grant, the funds must be used for the following:

  • Payroll support, including paid sick, medical, or family leave, and costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during those periods of leave;
  • Employee salaries;
  • Mortgage payments, rent, and utilities;
  • Principal and interest payments for any business loans from national or state-chartered banking, savings and loan institutions, or credit unions, that were incurred before or during the emergency
  • Eligible personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting materials, or other working capital needed to address COVID-19 response.

You can find out more information about the Rebuild VA program and what you need for the application here.

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