Not for profits included in municipal COVID-19 recovery grant

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is moving forward with its COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Grant, however, there will be some slight changes.

The $200,000 grant program criteria was approved by council Monday night. The goal of the program is to provide immediate funds to eligible local small businesses in order to help them better adapt to and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

Each successful applicant can receive up to $5,000. Depending on the demand for this grant, amounts may be lower but equal for all successful applicants.

Going into the meeting, there were several points so eligibility suggested by administration including:

-Businesses must be located in Chatham-Kent;

-Business annual sales must be less than $5 million;

-Business has been adversely affected due to COVID-19 pandemic and was not experiencing financial hardship prior to March 17, 2020;

-Applicants have been unable to access other forms of relief or supports or were ineligible, or the relief was insufficient;

-Business has not previously claimed bankruptcy or if so, when and proof of discharge can be provided;

-Business is not party to any outstanding claims or lawsuits;

-Business must pay commercial taxes or lease a property where the landlord pays commercial property taxes;

-Is a sole proprietorship, partnership or a corporation where the applicant is a majority; shareholder (if incorporated, application and grant funding is in personal name);

-If the applicant owns multiple businesses, only one of the businesses may apply and be eligible for the grant;

-Locally owned franchises are eligible should they meet all other criteria;

-Maintains a separate business bank account separate from personal finances, follows government rules and regulations for operating a business.

Businesses not eligible:

-Corporate franchises, commissioned sales, and distributorships;

-Not for profits or other registered charities;

-Multi-level marketing ventures;

-Previous recipients of other government relief or supports;

-Single events such as musical ventures, bands, DJs or dance/party event organizations.

However, Councillor Brock McGregor brought forward a successful motion to include not-for-profits and charities in the eligible listing. McGregor said the suggestion was brought up by the co-chairs of the Economic Recovery Task Force.

“With discussion with [The Economic Recovery Task Force], I think they’ve been pretty consistent in recognizing that not for profits and charities as a social enterprise are quite important,” said McGregor. “They’re employers, just like the for-profit sector and face some of the same fixed overheads like rent and property taxes for many of them. They felt it was appropriate to include them in the process.”

Other changes that were approved include opening the application process until July 16 instead of the originally proposed date of July 10 and that the term “or that relief was insufficient” be removed from the eligibility criteria. McGregor also requested that a member of the not for profit sector be included on the Small Business Recovery Grant Committee and that a summary of applications be brought back to council after the application period closes.

The application process is expected to open on July 2. Applications can be submitted online at once the program opens.