Across the globe, industries are still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted supply chains, limited operations or shuttered businesses altogether. Arkansas is no different, having seen restaurants and other businesses have operations reduced in an effort to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In an effort to boost businesses, the Arkansas Legislative Council has approved a new direct business grant shepherded by the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism; the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC); and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Using $50 million in federal CARES Act funding, these state agencies will award grants to businesses that were impacted by the pandemic.
The grant will target the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. To be eligible for the grant, the businesses must primarily operate in these industries; have been established on or before March 1, 2020; and have 250 or fewer employees, among other requirements.
“We have heard the businesses in the hospitality and personal care industries who continue to be impacted by this pandemic and desperately need help to continue to operate and to do so safely,” Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, said in a statement. “With the help of AEDC and DFA, I think we have developed an excellent program that will provide the most help we can give where it is most sorely needed.”
Grants will help reimburse businesses for expenses that were directly incurred by the COVID-19 public health emergency and associated mandates or restrictions. These expenses can include the costs of personal protective equipment (PPE), rent /mortgage interest payments on property incurred between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020; and other necessary business expenses, such as utility expenses, transportation costs, franchise fees, business insurance, payroll costs, telephone and internet service, technology costs in shifting to virtual operations and other expenses.
A review committee will determine grant amounts by assessing the total amount of eligible expenses, the impact of COVID-19 to a given industry and the sales tax differential paid by a businesses from March 1-Sept. 30 in 2019 and 2020. The maximum grant amount per application will be $250,000.
Applications will be accepted from Monday, Nov. 16 through Wednesday, Nov. 25. Currently, grants are expected to be awarded in late December.
Click here to read the rules for applying for the grant.