The Rice County Board of Commissioners today unanimously approved using federal dollars to develop a small business assistance grant program.  County Administrator Sara Folsted explained the Board previously approved a loan program through the Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Folsted told Commissioners 90 requests have come to the county totaling between $220,000 and $240,000 dollars.  She says Rice County will receive some significant federal CARES Act funds, "To provide economic support to assist with the cost of business interruption caused by required closures, voluntary closures to promote social distancing measures or that are affected by decreased customer demand as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency."

"Grant agreements of up to $3,000 may be approved and executed by the County Administrator and County Board Chair."

Folsted added, "I understand this is just scratching the surface and helping some people get caught up and trying to keep doors of business open and help them get what they need to change how they operate under this health situation.  I think once we get our allocation we should revisit that total and what of that total we want to put into these communities to help build to help build resiliency into our communities."

There are Economic Development Authority funds being used in the larger communities in Rice County but Folsted pointed out, "I know we are hearing some people are able to access some of those other funds but it's not very many and it's difficult.  So I think anything is helpful to help them keep their doors open and change their business practices."

Rice County is anticipating $250,000 of CARES Act funding.