More business owners can apply for relaunch grant

·2 min read

An expansion of the provincial small business relaunch grant will benefit owners of new businesses and unregistered sole proprietors, according to the Alberta government.

In a statement last Thursday the government unveiled the change to the small and medium enterprise (SME) grant.

“We were pleased when we saw the program being expanded to include those new businesses,” said Larry Gibson, Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce chairperson.

Gibson said the chamber had advocated for the expansion after hearing feedback from approximately three local new-business owners in the past few months.

The chamber doesn’t have data on how many other new businesses started up in the Grande Prairie area in 2020, he said.

Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s minister of jobs, said 10,000 businesses opened across the province in 2020.

Entrepreneurs whose businesses began operating between March and October 2020 can now apply for the SME grant, according to the government.

“Access to the grant for new businesses will help, considering they have largely been unable to access the federal support programs,” said Annie Dormuth, Canadian Federation of Independent Business provincial affairs director.

“With restrictions continuing and small businesses struggling, support programs will need to be extended and expanded in order to avoid widespread business closures across the province.”

SME provides financial assistance to businesses and non-profits with fewer than 500 employees and that have seen at least 30 per cent revenue loss amid restrictions.

New businesses didn’t have this historical data, Gibson noted.

In December SME was expanded to a new maximum of $20,000, up from $5,000.

The Alberta government committed $500 million to the program, which began last June.

So far, the SME program has provided more than $327 million to approximately 47,000 businesses, according to the government.

Applications remain open until March 31.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News