OLDS — Town council has authorized a grant program starting June 1 to provide money to help local companies that have valid business licences cover certain costs to reopen.
Council passed a motion unanimously to that effect during its May 25 meeting.
"Businesses can expect to receive their payment within two weeks of us receiving their application," finance director Sheena Linderman said in an email.
Forms will be available online.
The grants will be made available to enable those businesses to renovate in order to improve staff safety, accommodate social distancing, and obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks or gloves.
Businesses with storefronts within Olds will be eligible for up to $500. Home occupations in the town will be eligible for up to $100.
"Businesses will receive a cheque via mail or if they are registered with us to receive Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) the funds will be automatically transferred to their account," Linderman wrote.
The money will be available for the remainder of 2020.
A memo on the matter says the program, anticipated to cost $204,100, will be financed from “anticipated savings in the operating budget.”
Council was told cheques won’t go out automatically. Businesses will have to apply for the funds.
“They would submit an application, just a bit of a vetting check on a valid business licence, and then a cheque would be processed,” Sheena Linderman said during the council meeting.
“It’ll just be a very short, sweet application to minimize administration on it.”
Linderman said 373 storefronts in town have active licences and thus could be eligible for up to $500 each.
She said 176 home occupancy businesses could be eligible for up to $100 each.
Mayor Michael Muzychka stressed the grants are available only to businesses located within the town boundary; not to firms located in Mountain View County or elsewhere that have business licences in order to operate in the community.
Coun. Heather Ryan wondered if grants were available to what she termed “major employers,” those with more than 25 employees. She had been hoping they’d be eligible for grants of up to, say, $750.
However, CAO Michael Merritt said staff weren’t able to drill down to get those numbers, so for now at least, there is no such program for them.
“That one we were trying to ascertain, but we just don’t have that kind of information specific to each of the businesses,” Merritt said.
“It would be very difficult to try to get that information from these businesses in the current situation as they are trying to reopen in COVID and I’m not even sure we would be successful. So unfortunately we don’t have those details.”
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Merritt said the town was anxious to roll out something to help local businesses get back on their feet as the province begins to reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We know that there is a significant challenge to our businesses and we have come up with a program we think can assist our businesses and our home occupations to reopen without incurring tremendous costs,” Merritt said.
He thanked all those involved in creating the program, including members of the town’s Emergency Operations Centre and its executive team.
Merritt singled out Linderman for special thanks, saying she dealt with a lot of changes as the grant program was hammered out.