Stephanie LeQuieu

Stephanie LeQuieu, Oregon RAIN rural catalyst, speaks during a session of Grant County Court in June.

More help is available for Grant County’s small businesses that are still reeling from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stephanie LeQuieu, Grant County rural venture catalyst with Oregon RAIN, said this round of funding is through a partnership between Grant County and Community Lending Works and has significant changes.

First, she said, the available funding amount is high, roughly $60,000 and will remain open until the money is exhausted.

Second, she said, businesses that received federal funding, including Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, Small Business Loans, and Economic Injury Disaster Loans are now eligible to apply for grants.

“This is very cool,” she said. “And I encourage everyone who has applied and received, or who hasn’t applied because they either feel they don’t qualify, or were denied in round 1.”

She said Grant County also has another $30,000 in grant funding available through Business Oregon. Like the county’s grant program, the PPP and EIDL are no longer restrictions for eligibility for this round.

Grants of $5,000 and above are now available to small businesses that have received less than $100,000 in federal relief. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees are eligible if they were either forced to shut down by state order or can demonstrate a 25% drop in gross revenue in a given month between March and August of 2020, compared to the same month 2019.

“All businesses that have fewer than 25 employees, are located in Grant County and have experienced a 25% or greater loss due to COVID-19 are eligible,” she said.

Businesses with five or fewer staff members can get a minimum of $2,500 or an amount equal to two months of fixed expenses up to a maximum of $5,000. Those with six to 10 employees qualify for a minimum of $5,000 or up to 60 days of fixed costs up to $10,000.

Small businesses with 11 to 15 people on their payroll are eligible for $7,500 or a maximum of $15,000 in fixed expenses, while those with between 16 and 20 are eligible for $10,000 or a maximum of $20,000. Businesses with between 21 to 25 employees get a minimum of $12,500 and are capped at $25,000 of 60 days of fixed expenses.

The applications, said LeQuieu, will be reviewed in a lottery-determined order by Community Lending Works, a community development financial institution that offers credit, capital, and financial services to economically distressed areas.

LeQuieu said she worked with CDFI to create a grant program that would “offset” the strict rules with the CARES Act.

The program only allowed those businesses that had not received emergency federal assistance, including the SBA, Payroll Protection Program, EIDL, or other federal programs for emergency pandemic funding.

“I saw that as a potential hardship, from the beginning, as with many people,” she said. She said EIDL was originally never a part of the CARES Act.

The EIDL advance program provided small businesses, independent contractors, nonprofits and agricultural businesses a total of $20 billion in emergency funding.

The program provided a $1,000 grant per employee of a small business, up to a maximum of $10,000. Independent contractors, such as hairstylists, were entitled to $1,000. The grant did not have to be repaid, and recipients did not have to be approved for a loan.

“($1,000) is a drop in the bucket for what a lot of people lost over that period of time,” LeQuieu said.

She said many businesses are still “playing catch up” from the shutdown and sluggish tourism season, and she said leaders at the county and city levels are concerned as winter approaches.

“Tourism sustains a lot of our businesses through the winter,” she said. “The decrease in tourism, the delay in opening has left many of them playing catch up. When you accrue debt, it does not just go away.”

LeQuieu said she wants business owners to know they are not facing the economic downturn alone.

“Business owners that I’ve talked to throughout the state and even in other states are facing very similar challenges,” she said.

“Many are making decisions that they never thought they would have to make, and we’re all rooting for our business owners to come out of this. Nobody here wants to see any business fail.”

LeQuieu said business owners interested in the Grant County program can go to communitylendingworks.org to fill out the “State of Oregon COVID-19 Emergency Small Business Emergency Application.”

Those interested in applying for Business Oregon’s round four of funding can fill out the supplemental application below the emergency application.

LeQuieu can be reached at 541-965-1598 or via email at stephanie@oregonrain.org to answer questions.

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Reporter

Steven Mitchell is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at steven@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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