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Waynesboro City Council moves to help small businesses affected by coronavirus

Waynesboro City Council moves to help small businesses affected by coronavirus

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Rebecca J. Barnabi/The News Virginian

Waynesboro City Council is moving toward assistance for small businesses severely impacted by the loss of revenue from the coronavirus.

The council introduced an ordinance Monday that would set up a small business relief grant fund. Final approval of the ordinance is expected on June 22. City Manager Mike Hamp said approximately $100,000 for the fund would come from $1.9 million in federal dollars Waynesboro has received for its COVID-19 Relief Fund. The funds the city received resulted from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act [CARES Act].

Greg Hitchin, Waynesboro’s director of economic development and tourism, said the grant program would likely have a ceiling of no more than $10,000 per business. Hitchin said grants awarded would not have a minimum amount.

Applications for grants for locally owned small businesses with 20 or less full-time equivalent employees could be used for a variety of purposes, according to Hitchin. Funds could be used for mortgage payments, equipment for health and safety, and personal protective equipment.

When small businesses were recently surveyed by the city, 63 percent reported severe losses subsequent to the virus outbreak in March. And Hitchin said small businesses are dominant in the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro region.

“Eighty six percent of the business establishments in the region have 20 full-time employees or less,” he said.

Businesses that are a subsidiary of a larger company would not be eligible for the grants.

Hitchin will start receiving applications for the grants later this week. Grant applications must be received by the morning of June 22, he said. Applications will be reviewed by the city’s economic development authority. The EDA will also administer the grants. The grant funds will be available before the end of the current fiscal year June 30.

Also Monday night, the council introduced an ordinance that would raise court security fees from $10 to $20 for those in the three city courts who are convicted of traffic and criminal offenses.

Hamp said the city needs the additional funds to pay for part-time security manning courts. He said the increase would receive final approval in two weeks. The funds could also help pay for equipment needed to help with court security.

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