Local and area officials are sifting through and evaluating applications for the first round of funding for the Daviess County Small Business Relief Program.

The assessments are coming as the state begins loosening the reins on small businesses in the coronavirus pandemic, and small companies are reaching out to stay afloat in the new normal.

Officials say 26 businesses applied for aid under the new program to help get out from under financial problems caused by the COVID pandemic and the related economic shutdown.

“The project is going well,” said Bryant Niehoff, executive director with the Daviess County Economic Development Corp. “We didn’t know what to expect but we have had a lot of interest in the grants.”

The program allows small businesses to receive up to $5,000 in grants to keep their finances in line while they try to weather the pandemic.

“When you are first working on these things you don’t

know exactly what people want or need,” said Niehoff. “We are feeling pretty positive about the process now. We have had some hurdles to clear, but there has been a lot of good feedback and we are certainly grateful for the funding from OCRA (Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs).”

Daviess County received a $160,000 initial grant.

“We have had applicants for various amounts,” said Niehoff. “Some asked for the full $5,000. Others asked for various lesser amounts. The requests came from a pretty wide cross-section of businesses in the community. It was everything from retail operations to food establishments, hair salons and transportation. While the largest number came from Washington, there were businesses from all over the county.”

The total asked for on the applications is somewhere around $100,000. Whether all of the applications will be approved is another matter.

“Our goal is to fund as many businesses as we can, but we still have to do it inside of the parameters set down by the state and even the federal government. I can’t say how many requests will be approved. We are still waiting to see if we receive any rejections from the state. We will most likely have another round of applications once we get this one done,” he said.

Right now, there is no exact word on when the current applications will be acted upon.

“OCRA is involved and right now they are covered up,” said Neihoff. “We hope to get the answers out as soon as possible, but that still could be a couple of weeks. We will probably announce the recipients at the same time we announce the second round.”

OCRA has announced plans for additional possible funding for communities to recover from the pandemic. The DCEDC has not decided whether it will seek that funding again.

“This is a great program,” said Niehoff. “We are going to have to assess how well this one worked out before we start putting together plans to seek another grant.”
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