Governor’s signature authorizes $300 million for small business relief

Governor Tate Reeves has signed SB 2772, which allocates $300 million of Mississippi’s CARES Act funding for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Passed by the Legislature late last week, the bill will provide relief to businesses through two separate programs, the first of which will be a $60 million direct payment program. Businesses that were forced to shut down due to a government order — hairstylists, fitness centers, and some restaurants — will receive a $2,000 check. 

The remaining $240 million will be distributed in the form of grants of up to $25,000 to small businesses with 50 employees or less.

While more information on the application process will likely be released in the coming days, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann explained that, 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 which 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.

To qualify under either program, a business must:

  • Have registered with the Mississippi Department of Revenue on or before March 1, 2020;
  • Have filed state taxes for the 2018 or 2019 tax year, or plan to file state taxes for 2020 (only businesses which were created on or after January 1, 2020);
  • Not be a subsidiary of a business with 50 or less employees, or be part of or owned by a larger business enterprise with 50 or less employees; and
  • Be controlled by one or more Mississippi residents.

The programs are available to all small businesses, including sole proprietorships. The direct payment program will be administered by the Mississippi Department of Revenue and the Department of Finance and Administration, and the grant program will be administered by the Mississippi Development Authority.

Mississippi received a total of $1.25 billion from the CARES Act. With the remaining $900 million, Governor Reeves has discussed the possibility of funding workforce development efforts, distance learning improvements and left the door open for additional relief for small businesses. 

After an initial disagreement over who held the authority to spend the CARES Act funding, Governor Reeves and Legislative leadership reached an agreement to work together on the plan. Lawmakers were then called back to the Capitol to pass the bill.