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Hamilton County Launching Another Round Of Small Business Assistance

Bill Rinehart

Hamilton County begins accepting applications Monday for a second round of grants to help small businesses struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county is using $5 million of federal CARES Act funding for the effort. Each eligible business could receive a grant of up to $10,000.

In the first round earlier this year, the county assisted nearly 220 businesses with $1.7 million in funding.

This second round has been expanded and modified to help more businesses, including some who were excluded from the first round.

County Commission President Denise Driehaus said last week officials made changes after talking with small businesses who were not eligible the first time or did not even apply.

"We need to require less paperwork," Driehaus said. "We need to have less restrictive eligibility requirements to include more businesses."

In the first round, businesses had to show a 35% loss when comparing 2019 to 2020. That created issues for some companies.

"They can simply fall into the category of being required to close by the state in the initial stages of the shutdown," Driehaus said. "Or show a 15% decline because of COVID-19 in April and May of this year compared to the same timeframe last year."

For the second round, businesses can receive support from federal programs and still qualify for county assistance. This includes firms that may have received or been approved for $20,000 or less in assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

In the first round, businesses had to have less than $1 million in gross annual revenue. That's been increased to $2 million.

Applications will be accepted starting at noon on Monday on the county's website. The deadline to apply is Sept. 4 at 12 p.m.

If the number of applications exceeds the funding available, the grants will be awarded by a lottery. One will be for businesses with 10 or fewer employees, and the other for firms with 11 to 50 employees.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.