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Washington County businesses can apply for CARES assistance

MARIETTA — Small businesses in Washington County can apply for up to $20,000 in assistance through the Washington County CARES Small Business and Nonprofit Grant Program.

Announced Thursday at the Washington County Commissioners meeting, the program is designed to provide assistance to qualifying organizations and will be administered by the Buckeye Hills Regional Council.

The commissioners are using CARES Act funds available to support eligible county businesses which have suffered damages as a result of the pandemic.

“This is historic. I don’t think we’ve ever had the opportunity to do anything like this before,” Commission President Ron Feathers said.

Jamie Vuksic, one of the taskforce members, said the state’s program is nearly identical to that of the county.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s office announced Oct. 23 that the state is developing a package of more than $419.5 million in CARES Act funding to help Ohioans.

This package includes funding for small businesses, restaurants and bars, hospitals, higher education, arts, nonprofits, and low-income Ohioans impacted financially by the pandemic.

DeWine’s office said the package includes $125 million in CARES Act funding to provide grants to small businesses with no more than 25 employees. The grant funding will help businesses pay for a variety of expenses, including mortgage or rent payments; utility payments; salaries, wages, or compensation for employees and contractors; business supplies or equipment; and other costs.

“Someone that applies or receives money through this program cannot apply to receive funds through the state,” Vuksic said of the county program. “If they do, that will be frowned upon at a later date and they’ll have to pay the money back.”

Feathers said some of the criteria include:

* must be located in Washington County;

* have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees; and

* be in good standing with the state.

He said the entities must not:

* be in bankruptcy;

* be permanently closed;

* be a sexually-oriented adult entertainment establishment or a store primarily selling tobacco, vaping products, cannabis or alcohol, although bars and restaurants are eligible; and

* be a solely ecommerce enterprise, such as Uber, Lyft or Etsy.

Commissioner David White said it is OK for there to be up to 50 employees, but there is a cap on annual revenue of $1.5 million.

“I know of no business with 50 employees that only has an annual revenue of $1.5 million,” he said. “We’re talking gross revenue here. How can you have 50 employees with only a gross revenue of $1.5 million. You couldn’t even pay their salaries.”

Applications for the county’s program will be accepted from 8 a.m. Monday until 5 p.m. Nov. 25 through www.buckeyehills.org/washsmallbiz.

Buckeye Hills will submit the eligible applicants to the Washington County CARES Committee for review by Dec. 7 and projects under consideration will be presented to the commissioners on Dec. 10.

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