More than $3 million in CARES Act funds will be distributed to small businesses and restaurants in a second round of small-business relief grants as part of St. Louis County’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only businesses that did not receive grants in the first round can apply, with a deadline of Monday, Dec. 7, although the county is warning that applications could be cut off ahead of that date based on demand.
County Executive Sam Page announced the second round of grants directly after issuing a stay-at-home advisory and indoor dining ban that some local restaurants said could put them out of business after already surviving six months of a pandemic with limited service and a previous indoor dining ban during Page’s first two-month stay-at-home order earlier this year.
Small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can apply for $5,000 grants to pay for operating expenses or business costs, including rent and payroll. Restaurants that have had to adapt to COVID-related public health restrictions can apply for $5,000 grants to offset related costs for things such as equipment for outdoor dining, heaters, tents, and curbside service.
In order to qualify, businesses must have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and have a physical presence in St. Louis County. The grants can only go to businesses significantly impacted by the continued economic challenges created by COVID-19 and will only cover expenses and costs incurred between April 1, 2020 and Dec. 16, 2020. Businesses that have already received a County CARES Act grant are not eligible.
Applications for the Small Business Rapid Deployment Fund grants opened Monday, Nov. 23, at 9 a.m. and will remain open until 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7. Businesses and restaurants are encouraged to apply as early as possible because funding may be limited based on demand. To apply, go to the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership website at STLPartnership.com.
“These grants come at a critical time for small businesses and restaurants in St. Louis County,” Page said in the announcement. “We know these businesses have been acutely affected by the pandemic and our efforts to control the spread of the virus. I implore all businesses that qualify to apply for these grants and I call on our leaders in Washington to get together now and approve a stimulus package so that we can get more financial assistance out into our communities. This should have happened months ago.”
The county earlier this year awarded $19.7 million of grants up to $15,000 to more than 1,600 small businesses and restaurants that had been impacted by the pandemic, including The Call.
The additional funds aimed at small businesses comes at the recommendation of the Economic Rescue Team, a group of volunteers appointed by Page earlier this year to help lead the county’s economic recovery efforts.
The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership will administer the new program, known as the Small Business Rapid Deployment Fund.
“As a catalyst for economic development in the St. Louis region, we remain committed to helping existing businesses weather the devastating impact of the COVID-19 virus. These funds are part of a comprehensive support plan,” said Rodney Crim, CEO and president of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.