Coronavirus ‘save small business’ grant program launched by US Chamber of Commerce

Eligible businesses can apply to receive $5,000

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While some states will begin the process of slowly reopening their economies over the coming weeks, many of the nation’s small businesses are facing coronavirus-inflicted financial turmoil – and some groups are hoping to step in and help.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday launched a “Save Small Business Grant Fund” to provide up to $5,000 in supplemental grants to small business owners in “economically vulnerable communities.” The money must be put toward business expenses.

The grants will be funded by the chamber’s corporate and philanthropic partners.

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Eligible businesses have between three and 20 employees, have been harmed by the coronavirus pandemic and are located in an economically vulnerable community – defined as the bottom 80 percent of the most economically distressed ZIP codes in the United States. The group has a way to check if your business’s ZIP code is eligible on its website.

Applications can be sent in as of Monday, and you will need your Form W-9 to apply. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis.

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It is unclear how many businesses will be able to receive the grants, with the group saying it will deliver them to “as many small employers” as it can until funding runs out.

A study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that a majority of small businesses employing between five and 99 individuals have less than six months before they would be forced to shut down operations permanently. Between 14 percent and 17 percent said they had less than one month.

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Meanwhile, the Trump administration is nearing a deal with Democrats to replenish funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is also designed to help small businesses.

The package could include another $300 billion for paycheck program loans, $25 billion for virus testing and $75 billion for hospitals.

Democrats had blocked earlier efforts to pass a funding bill, calling for increased funding to hospitals and states.

PPP is designed to incentivize companies with fewer than 500 employees to retain staff despite difficult economic conditions that have resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. Applicants can receive up to $10 million, which can be forgiven in certain cases. At least 75 percent of the money must be put toward payroll costs.

The $350 billion in funding for the program, however, ran out of funds as of Thursday, and lenders were forced to stop accepting applications.

So far, more than 1.6 million loans have been approved through the paycheck loan program.

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