Council approves $2 million in small business funds

Nov. 17 – VALDOSTA – As small local businesses enter the holiday season, they will receive a gift of their own in the form of $2 million from American Rescue Plan funds.

Minority-owned businesses, women and veterans will receive more than 82% of the cut.

Valdosta City Council originally allocated $1 million to a Small Business Grant Program as a counterpart to the Nonprofit Grant Program. The program aims to relieve small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and help revitalize the local economy.

The total allocation for Valdosta is $16,254,682, with half of the allocation received in June 2021 and $3.2 million of the funds being retained to pay hourly city workers.

The city had received 234 applications totaling $3.9 million in potentially eligible applications, and the City Council approved an additional $1 million to expand the program at its Oct. 20 meeting.

Chuck Dinkins, city treasurer, said the committee decided that only Priority 1 applications received within the first two weeks should receive 100% funding; however, additional funds from incomplete, ineligible and overvalued applications freed up enough funds to cover all Tier 1 applications.

Applications were prioritized based on location in the qualifying census area as defined by ARPA, minority/female/veterans ownership, and timing of application receipt.

This prioritization results in applications being separated into four areas, with the Committee’s recommended allocation including: — Minority/women/veterans-owned businesses in the eligible census districts that submit applications in the first two weeks of the application process. These are the companies that are 100% funded.

Total funds: $1,645,835.51. — Non-minority/women/veterans owned businesses in the QCT. These would be funded at 45% of eligibility.

Total funds: $244,379.83. — Minority/women/veterans owned businesses outside of the QCT. These would be funded in proportion to the remaining funds after all other buckets have been funded.

Total funds: $93,817.64. — Non-minority/women/veterans owned businesses outside of the QCT. These would be funded at the lesser of eligibility or $800.

Total funds: $10,432.69.

Ben Norton, a member of Valdosta City Council, expressed his gratitude to the committee that helped allocate the “monumental” funds and submitted a motion for approval of their recommended distribution.

In a statement to the Valdosta Daily Times, Christie Moore, President and CEO of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, thanked the Council for its support of small locally owned businesses.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our community. The Chamber is grateful to Valdosta City Council for recognizing the critical role small businesses play in maintaining a thriving community by providing $2 million in ARPA funding for small business grants. I am proud of the work completed by the ARPA Small Business Grant Committee to ensure that all of the City of Valdosta’s licensed businesses had an opportunity to apply and had the opportunity to receive help navigating the application process,” she said .

“The vast majority of City Council-funded businesses were owned by minorities, women, and/or veterans. These businesses have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and while these grants won’t fix everything, we sincerely hope they will provide much needed support to these businesses that keep our local economies thriving.”

The council went ahead and approved the offer, with council member Sandra Tooley being the only reluctance due to her previous dispute with the council not approving 100% funding for all applicants.

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