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Salt Lake County is offering $40 million in grants for small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19.

(Zoi Walker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mayor Jenny Wilson and other Salt Lake County officials announced a new grant program for small businesses hurt by public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic. The news conference was held Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Taylorville.

Local business owners that were not able to get a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan have a new option to keep their companies afloat during the pandemic. Mayor Jenny Wilson on Thursday announced that Salt Lake County is launching a $40 million Small Business Impact Grant (SBIG) program.

“With these funds we have a deep commitment to help a multitude of small businesses in Salt Lake County,” Wilson said. “We know businesses have been hampered as COVID-19 has required serious public health measures. They have made huge sacrifices to achieve this goal as a community, and we appreciate the seriousness in which owners have taken employee and customer safety.”

The new program, which opens for applications Tuesday at 9 a.m., is funded through the County’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) money and is specifically aimed at helping businesses hit hardest by public health order closures.

Small business owners can receive up to $35,000 and grants are expected to help at least 1,142 businesses, keeping thousands of Utahns employed.

“As part of our economic impact and recovery strategy, we must ensure businesses most directly affected have hope and are supported,” Wilson said in a news release.

The SBIG program will help Utahns like Violet Campos, Owner of Luna Moon Salon and Barbershop in Taylorsville.

Campos’ salon was closed for nearly three months because of the pandemic. She had no money to pay for rent, internet, phone bills, or food and she lost most of her employees and clients.

“It’s been really really tough on me. … It’s been devastating for me because that was my way to make money and put bread in my house for my kids,” Campos told The Tribune. “So it’s been really hard … too hard.”

She said she’s behind on all of her expenses now but she wants to keep the salon. “I want to continue because I love what I do. I like to meet people and make them feel right about themselves, that’s my happiness.”

Campos thinks it’s harder to get the loans she needs due to her gender and ethnicity. “Being a minority … it’s like I’m invisible and being a woman sometimes it’s difficult because you don’t have … power that I see sometimes.”

But she is happy to have another opportunity to get help for her business. “It means that I can dream, I can have hope that it’s gonna work this time,” she said in an interview. “Because I applied for two other programs — the emergency and the PPP — and they told me that my business was too small to help.”

Utahs that want to apply for the SBIG program have to meet certain eligibility requirements. Grants are only available to businesses in Salt Lake County with fewer than 100 employees that were open before Jan 1. The businesses also need documents verifying their financial loss, and they have to be directly impacted by public health orders.

Additionally, grants are reserved for businesses that have not received financial aid through federal, state, or local COVID-19 programs funded through the CARES Act. This means Utahns who have already received loans or grants through the Small Business Administration’s PPP or EIDL and state COVID-19 Commercial Rental Assistance Program are not eligible for a grant.

Because the County is trying to help small business owners who have lost the most income during the pandemic, the program is aimed at business owners in certain industries, including: arts and entertainment, food service , health and wellness, recreation and tourism and personal care services.

“We understand that there are businesses in every sector or industry that need assistance as a result of the COVID crisis. And we wish we had funds available to meet all those needs,” Dina Blaes, director of Salt Lake County’s Office of Regional Development, said.

“But with this approach that we did … narrowing our focus in terms of eligibility, we’re wanting to assist businesses that were forced to close temporarily, or partially or permanently by public health orders.”

You can apply for the program at slco.org. The application will be available in English, and application support will be available in Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Vietnamese. If you want to apply but need help, you can call the business relief hotline at 385-468-4011.

Webinars will also be available to discuss the program and answer any questions about eligibility and the application process. Grant amounts will vary depending on a company’s documented losses and COVID-related expenses. Applications will be processed in the order they are submitted until the fund is empty.

“We know the county’s small businesses have endured so many difficulties these past three months as the community navigated the initial impact of this novel virus, and continue to do so today,” Blaes said. “This program will meet some of that immediate need while we collaborate and strategize with partners on additional resources to put in place for long-term economic recovery.”

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