‘Back To Business Grant Program’ application to go live Thursday

Mississippi’s small businesses are one step closer to receiving relief funding following the announcement of the application for the ‘Back To Business Mississippi Grant Program.’

Governor Tate Reeves announced that the application for the $240 million grant program will go live on backtobusinessms.org Thursday at noon. 

“We need to always remember: the pandemic was not just a public health emergency. It plunged our country into the greatest job loss since the Great Depression. The economic damage—and the human cost of it—has been incalculable. We need to do everything in our power to take care of our neighbors,” said Governor Reeves said during today’s press briefing.

Created following an agreement between the Governor and the Legislature, the program will use CARES Act funding to provide grants of up to $25,000 for small businesses in Mississippi with less than 50 employees that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Eligible expenses under the grant program include mortgage interest, rent, payroll, utilities, and other pandemic-related expenses. Under the CARES Act, the grant cannot cover lost revenue.

According to Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, for the first 60 days, $40 million from the grant program will be set aside for minority-owned businesses. Also, for the first 21 days of the application period for the grant program, only businesses that did not receive funds from the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance, any other federal program, or compensation from business interruption insurance will be considered.

In addition to the grant program, $60 million of CARES Act funding was distributed in the form of $2,000 checks to businesses that were forced by government order to close during the pandemic. This includes hairstylists, fitness centers, and some restaurants. Governor Reeves stated that so far, 10,797 checks (nearly $21.6) million have been sent out. 

During today’s briefing, the Governor also made several other important announcements including the extension of Mississippi’s ‘Safe Return’ order until Monday, June 29, 2020 at 8:00 AM with a few new amendments. 

The amendments include the following: 

Under the executive order, the limitation on restaurants and bars that serve alcohol must close to the public by 10:00 PM is lifted.

Gyms and fitness centers are also allowed to increase the number of customers to 50% of maximum capacity, and outdoor and indoor arenas can open under social distancing restrictions such as limiting seating capacity to 25% and following guidelines for business operations under Executive Order No. 1492.

“As a reminder, these should not be taken as a signal that the risk is gone. COVID-19 is still here, still deadly, still contagious. It is purely a recognition of the costs of continued shutdowns and heavy regulation,” said Governor Reeves.

Another executive order “sunsets administrative leave for state, local, and municipal government employees set under Executive Orders 1458 and 1460 to end on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.”

You can watch today’s briefing below: