JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Remember all that talk about how to spend the federal CARES Act money in Mississippi? There’s now a plan on how to use 25% of it.
And the focus is on helping small businesses.
Pending approval from the Governor, there should soon be two new options to prop up struggling small businesses.
First, a $60 million dollar pot of money that will be distributed in the form of $2,000 direct payments to small business owners industries forced to close by order. No application needed.
“We are declaring that suffered," said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. “We are declaring that they have suffered damage simply by virtue of the fact that they were ordered to close by their government. That is an unheard of thing that the government would step up and shut down a private industry.”
The other $240 million in the relief plan will be used to create the Back to Business Mississippi grant fund.
For the first 60 days, $40 million will be set aide for minority-owned businesses. Each business could qualify for up to $25,000 in grant money.
First dibs will go to those small businesses who weren’t able to get funding through the Paycheck Protection Program.
“They may not have qualified," explained Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. “They may not have applied on time. They may not, for whatever reason... We thought it was important to first get the small business that hadn’t gotten money. After that 21 days is out, all businesses that meet the qualifications will come into play and be eligible for the money.”
Governor Reeves had initially referenced he’d like to see some direct payments to both the businesses and employees. We asked if he’d still push for that to be added at some point.
“I certainly still continue to be very interested in helping those individuals that were harmed that perhaps were not able to get their unemployment insurance checks, for instance," said Reeves. "Or those individuals who were harmed because the government did what they thought was right to shut down certain industries for safety reasons. But these individuals got hurt at no fault of their own.”
Reeves says the money can’t get out to the small businesses soon enough.
“The fact of the matter is they’ve been hurting for weeks and weeks and weeks on end.”
The Governor has not yet signed the bill but his team was part of the discussions with the legislature. He says he will review it but every indication is that he intends to sign it.