In looking for ways to support local businesses that have been heavily impacted by forced closures as a result of COVID-19 as well as the recent flooding downtown, Delaware City Council considered an emergency assistance grant program during its meeting Tuesday.
Under the proposed program, funding would start at $100,000, which would come from the city’s Development Reserve Fund that carries a current balance of $1,008,885.
“As a result of the COVID-19 health crisis and the May 19, 2020 flood event, local businesses are suffering from closing operations, employee furlough or lay-off, and economic losses,” the ordinance reads. “To support Delaware’s business community, city staff is proposing the Delaware COVID-19 and Spring Flood Small Business Grant Program. This program will provide an outright grant reimbursement for eligible business owners for expenses directly attributable to the COVID-19 crisis and/or the recent flood.”
Assistant City Manager Kyle Kridler said the program is similar to what has been done in other communities around central Ohio in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which have seen “a lot of success.”
Kridler said applications will be accepted beginning June 1 through June 18, and the grants would be for amounts up to $2,500. “Special exceptions for extreme circumstances” will be considered for amounts up to $5,000, he went on to say.
Applications will be considered by the city’s grant review team, which will be comprised of Kridler, Economic Development Director Sean Hughes, Finance Director Justin Navi, and “a member selected by city council to review the applications on a rolling and ongoing basis,” Kridler said.
As part of the application process, businesses will need to submit receipts for expenses directly related to the pandemic or flooding.
“(The program) is really targeted towards small businesses, businesses with 30 employees or less,” Kridler said. “We feel that it will be a good opportunity to get this money in the hands of our Main Street businesses and other small businesses that have been impacted in relatively short order.”
Asked by Mayor Carolyn Riggle to clarify, Kridler said the program is for any business in the city, not only those in the downtown district.
City Attorney Darren Shulman recommended the ordinance receive two readings because it involves appropriations. However, he advised council members to voice their stance on the ordinance so that if the prevailing thought is the ordinance will pass at the next meeting, applications can begin being received on the June 1 start date; council wouldn’t meet again to vote on and approve the ordinance until June 8.
Vice Mayor Kent Shafer called the program “a great idea,” adding that it “sends a clear message that we’re here to help.”
Councilman Drew Farrell echoed Shafer’s sentiment, as did the rest of council, saying, “Anything we can do to help is worth doing, especially something like this where, if they qualify, there are no strings attached…”
“I think there were quite a few of us who were down (in the downtown district) and saw firsthand the need these businesses will have to use these funds, not only to clean up from the flood but the mandates that a lot of them had to follow to equip their businesses with safety equipment for the COVID-19 safety requirements,” Councilwoman Lisa Keller stated. “The timing of this (program) is very helpful for both of those things, so I’m all in favor of it.”
The ordinance establishing the Delaware COVID-19 and Spring Flood Small Business Grant Program is expected to be voted on at the June 8 meeting.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.