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Grant program to aid small businesses

Boulder City has a new grant program to help its small businesses and residents weather through the COVID-19 storm.

At its Sept. 8 meeting, City Council approved disbursing up to $200,000 for small business grants. The money is part of the $1.5 million CARES grant the city received from Clark County.

“The intent of this grant program was to try to respond to businesses negatively impacted by COVID that were established before the pandemic started,” said Community Development Director Michael Mays.

Businesses can apply to be reimbursed for rent, utilities, inventory, COVID-19 supplies, personal protection equipment and other administrative costs.

“We know small businesses here in Boulder City have suffered due to the pandemic, and it might take quite a while before the business climate returns to normal,” said Raffi Festekjian, economic development coordinator. “This is just one of a handful of relief packages available that will help small businesses move one step closer toward financial recovery. If our small businesses did not apply or qualify for other federal programs, we encourage them to apply for this program.”

To be eligible, businesses must have a physical location in Boulder City, an active Boulder City business license and 20 or fewer full-time employees or full-time equivalents. Those businesses that have not received any federal assistance during the pandemic will be prioritized over those that have. The grant amounts are $5,000 for businesses with one to 10 full-time employees and $10,000 for ones with 11 to 20 full-time employees.

Festekjian said a link to apply for the grant is still being developed and will be available on the city’s website, www.bcnv.org.

“It will be administered through the National Development Council … through the ZoomGrants portal,” he said. “This will provide businesses with an easy online platform for applying for the grant.”

Council also approved having the city spend up to $20,000 through the grant to purchase broadcasting and streaming equipment to improve its live streaming capability for meetings.

“It would be in essence real time,” said City Manager Al Noyola. “There might be a (one) second delay.”

“This equipment will allow us to broadcast the meetings live on BCTV and allow for viewers to have more platform options for viewing, such as YouTube and Facebook,” said Communications Manager Lisa LaPlante. “The upgrades will allow for greater viewership of meetings and more public involvement, as well as less delay between on-air signal and call-ins.”

“I think it would be wonderful to have people be able to go on and stream and call in and not have to then wait 45 seconds for whatever they’re listening to to end before they make a comment,” said Councilwoman Claudia Bridges.

“I think the increased accessibility that we have been able to provide for our council meetings and for other public meetings has been a great benefit to our community,” added Councilman James Howard Adams. “I certainly do think that those benefits should continue beyond this state of emergency. I think it’s really important that we always move to increase accessibility so that people have the ability to review what we are doing when we are here doing the people’s work.”

The approved grant program also includes a maximum of $1,258,373 to pay public safety payroll expenses, up to $150,000 for an all-day child care program at the Parks and Recreation Department, up to $20,000 for food purchases by the Senior Center of Boulder City and up to $50,000 for rent and mortgage assistance and utility assistance to be administered by Emergency Aid of Boulder City.

Funds must be requested by the agencies and allocated by Dec. 1. Any grant money that remains by Dec. 4 will be used to reimburse the city’s public safety payroll.

Bridges did say she was concerned about money being allocated for Emergency Aid, especially with it needing to be spent by December.

“I’m sure that they would appreciate extra funding,” she said. “They have received significant funding, about $250,000, to be used … a lot of that by December. That would be my concern also because if it has to be expended on rent and utilities by December we could end up having to put some of that money back.”

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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