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Hamilton Co. Re-Declares State Of Emergency, Approves $4.1M For Small Business Assistance

Becca Costello

Hamilton County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to re-declare a state of emergency, approving $4.1 million for a third round of small business assistance and $100 incentives for county employees who are fully vaccinated.

The county's original state of emergency expired in June.

"We thought as a board it's time to just put it in the forefront again for those who think it's going away and it's ended," said President Stephanie Summerow Dumas. "But there are more people, as we know, that are being impacted."

COVID-19 transmission in the county is at the highest level according to the CDC. The emergency declaration cites the delta variant as a particular danger, saying it can be more than twice as contagious as previous variants.

The declaration goes through the end of October and can be ended or renewed by commissioners at any time.

Small Businesses Assistance

Commissioners approved a plan to spend $4.3 million of leftover CARES Act money on a third round of small businesses grants.

Assistant County Administrator Holly Christmann says they've tweaked the program in an effort to expand the impact.

"We are not going to require closeout reports, which we did with the first two rounds," Christmann said. "We're asking for that information up front, in order to really have a much more streamlined process. If you look at our first round last year, we awarded 217 businesses. The second round went up to almost 600. So we're hoping to even grow further on that with this third round."

Small businesses will be eligible for up to $10,000 dollars each. Christmann says businesses must have lost revenue due to the pandemic, but are still eligible even if they received a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan.

A total $4.1 million will be available for the grants; the remaining money, about $200,000, will pay for administrative costs.

Full details on eligibility will be published next week, with applications due by the end of September.

Last month, Commissioners announced the 513 Small Businesses Assist Program to guide small businesses owners through the process of applying for grants.

Vaccine Incentive

Hamilton County employees can get a $100 incentive if they're fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Commissioners approved the plan using federal stimulus from the American Rescue Plan Act.

"As we are bringing employees back into the buildings, we're bringing customers back into the buildings, we wanted to recommend every strategy we possibly can to make sure as great a percentage of our population is vaccinated as we possibly can," said County Administrator Jeff Aluotto.

County employees can get the $100 even if they were vaccinated before the incentive program. The county employs more than 4,400 people.

The County Health Department is also offering a $100 Visa gift card for anyone now getting their first dose at a county-run clinic.

About 54% of all county residents have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.