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COVID relief funds available

WINTON – With applications slow to arrive, Hertford County Manager David Cotton has relaxed some of the qualifications for the county’s Small Business COVID-19 Relief Funding Program.

That program, which draws its money from the CARES Act, assists Hertford County-based small businesses that are experiencing financial difficulties such as mandated shutdowns, employee layoffs, and operating losses as a result of ongoing efforts of the federal, state and local authorities to contain and minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The maximum grant is $10,000 per small business with no repayment required.

Cotton said only five applications had been received as of last week.

“Commissioner [Leroy] Douglas gave me some useful feedback and guidance about helping small business owners,” Cotton said at last week’s meeting of the board. “He suggested that we need to maximize participation and make sure that we give every small business an opportunity to apply for these funds and not make the process so burdensome.”

Based on guidance from Douglas, Cotton said he streamlined the grant program’s guidelines.

Under requirements and qualifications, Cotton said a profit/loss statement has been deleted and simply inserted the need for a statement on how the business has been impacted financially by COVID-19.

Cotton also deleted the 25 percent decline in revenue threshold; instead saying that a business only has to show a revenue loss of any amount.

In the financial documents requirements of the program, Cotton deleted the dates of March through September of 2019 and 2020.

The NAICS code requirement has been removed from the application, as have the monthly sales revenues for the months of January through September, 2020.

“What that basically leaves you is a statement of how a business has been impacted, a copy of a business’s lease or mortgage, proof that your city and county taxes are paid, proof that you are in good standing with the Secretary of State, and your most recent completed tax return for 2019,” Cotton said. “The business qualifications remain the same.”

Those qualifications include that the business is located in Hertford County with annual revenue of $2.5 million or less; has 100 employees or less; is locally owned and independently operated; has experienced a decline in revenues due to COVID-19; has not filed for bankruptcy; does not have any open tax liens; and does not have current open judgments.

Businesses that have been operating for one year or less and have filed a 2019 tax return and also meet all other eligibility criteria are eligible to apply.

Businesses that have already received COVID-19 related financial assistance from either the state, federal or local governments are eligible to apply for the Hertford County Small Business COVID-19 Relief Funding Program.

The deadline to submit an application has been extended until 5 p.m. on Nov. 29.

Prior to the vote, Commissioner Andre Lassiter asked for reassurance that streamlining the guidelines will not lead to fraudulent applications.

“I believe we have some strong indicators in place [in the application] that prevent that from happening,” Cotton stressed. “Their tax return is among those strong indicators.”

The board voted without objection to approve the changes to the application.

For more information, contact the Hertford County Manager’s office at 252-358-7805.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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