Due to their work nature, they remained open for business during the ordered closures from the pandemic. While they suffered a significant economic blow, it was due to the diminishing prices in the market and lack of work, not the effects caused by the pandemic. A few of the businesses in town most affected by the pandemic have been the restaurants and non-profit organizations that temporarily closed their doors to the public. The utility bills, lease payments and other additional overhead costs were still expected to be paid during business closures which only places owners further behind financially. Due to the government’s decision to order specific business closures and place stringent requirements for operations, both the provincial and federal governments have developed grant funding to relieve some of the financial pressures business owners endured. In the past eight months, dozens of funding opportunities have been available for individuals and business owners. The latest one announced is geared for small and medium businesses.
The government has set aside $500 million in funding to help business owners get back on their feet. The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant available through the Alberta Jobs, Economic, and Innovation Ministry accepts applications until March 31, 2021. The grant offers financial assistance to eligible businesses, non-profits and cooperatives ordered to close or reduce business and suffered at least a 30 percent loss of revenue due to COVID. There are two types of funding available for those who qualify, with the funding issued in two separate payments. The program offers up to $20,000 in funding for businesses established before February 29, 2020. For new businesses that started between March 1 to October 31, 2020, funding up to $15,000 are also available.
Payment amounts are based on 15 percent of one month's worth of pre-COVID revenue. The second payment will equate to the amount approved from the first payment three times. For new businesses that started in 2020, the 15 percent is based on any month of their choice between March and October 2020. Funding issued will be tripled for the one payment up to $15,000. Successful applicants should expect to receive funding within ten days of application. Monies allocated can be used as owners see fit to help offset a portion of costs incurred from the health measures or relaunch costs. For more information and to access the online application form, visit www.alberta.ca/sme-relaunch-grant.
Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press