Marshfield EDB advances small business grant program
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield city council members will be asked April 28 to sign off on an emergency grant program aimed at city businesses suffering financial hardships due to COVID-19. The city’s Economic Development Board (EDB) voted 7-0 April 24 to send the program to the council for its consideration.
City Economic Development Director Josh Miller told the Board the funds would go a long way toward helping small businesses struggling through the pandemic.
“I think it’s all a matter of priority,” he said. “And I know this is a need right now. I’ve talked to some people who haven’t had a paycheck in six weeks. They haven’t been able to get unemployment. And, they haven’t qualified for any funding. For a number of people, there’s some hurt out there, and if we can offset some of that, as much as we can do that I think that that is what the need is right now.”
The proposal would make $100,000 available through the EDB, and each eligible business could get up to $2,000 for things like rent, utility bills and payroll.
The original cap was going to be $1,500 per business, but Alder Adam Fischer pushed for more.
“I don’t think we can actually give people enough. I mean, we’re going through a pandemic crisis,” he said. “If we max at $2,000 there’s still probably going to be a need. But, I feel strongly that an amount like $2,000 – we have a little bit more to work with – and hopefully we can do more to meet some basic needs at that time.”
Mayor Bob McManus originally wanted to make $40,000 of city funds available for the program, but the EDB stepped up to meet the need.
“How many applications are we going to get? We don’t know. But to get this – it’s very similar to the P.P.P (Paycheck Protection Program) – the businesses cannot have had any other support,” the mayor said. “So, what’s going to go back to the Council is the exact same application. But, one thing that was changed – it was going to be a first-come, first-served basis.
“To clean up that confusion, what they’re going to do now is open up the application process for 48, maybe 72 hours; get all the applications in possible; make sure that all the paperwork is in; and then they will be picked at random until the funds run out. So that’s what’s going back to the council.
“Basically, the changes are random picking, instead of $1,500 up to $2,000, and instead of using the contingency fund this will come out of the EDB. I could not be more happy with this whole thing. And I believe that the Council is on board with this.”
Criteria for the money does state that applicants must be local, non-franchise businesses with 15 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, with a physical brick-and-mortar presence within the city of Marshfield.