Howell County Commission launches CARES Act Grant Relief Program for Small Businesses

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[WEST PLAINS, MO] –

The Howell County Commission has established a grant program using CARES Act funds for small businesses in Howell County to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.   The Howell County CARES Small Business Relief Program is designed to provide businesses impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency with financial relief through an application-based reimbursement program.  The Ozarks Small Business Incubator (OzSBI) is serving as the grant program administrator for the Howell County CARES Small Business Relief Program.
 
“The Commission has set aside a portion of the CARES Act funds Howell County received for small businesses.  These funds are available to eligible businesses on a reimbursement basis.  Every business in the county is important to us and we hope these funds help more companies navigate these challenging times.  We are proud to partner with the Ozarks Small Business Incubator to implement the Howell County CARES Small Business Relief Program,” stated Mark Collins, Howell County Presiding Commissioner. 
 
Grants will be awarded to Howell County businesses based on a criteria defined by federal CARES Act guidelines and the U.S. Treasury.  Funds may be used to cover costs that:
 
1. Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19.  
2. Were unbudgeted costs as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act). 
3. Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.
 
Eligible expenditures include but are not limited to COVID-19-related medical expenses, public health expenses, overhead cost that had to be paid while the business was closed, payroll expenses for COVID-specific sanitation, expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19 related public health measures, expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency, and other COVID-19-related expenses deemed reasonably necessary that satisfy the eligibility and criteria of the CARES Act Guidelines. 
 
To be eligible, businesses must: be a for-profit, independently-owned business or independently-operated franchise geographically located within Howell County, have 500 or fewer employees, possess valid city, county, and state licensure to operate, and be in operation prior to March 1, 2020. Eligible applicant businesses must also provide proof of a business hardship created by COVID-19.
 
Funds cannot be used for the same expenses and in the same period that have been or will be reimbursed under any federal program, including but not limited to a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) advance, and unemployment compensation. Applicants that have not received any federal program funds will have priority over those that have received funding from other programs.  
 
The Ozarks Small Business Incubator will accept applications and review them for completeness and adherence to CARES Act guidelines and related guidance from the US Treasury.  Vetted applications will be presented to the Howell County Commission for their consideration.  After review by the Howell County Commissioners, applicant will receive a Notice of Decision signed by the County Commission reflecting whether the request was approved, denied or partially funded.  OzSBI will notify applicants of the County’s decision by phone and/or email. The Ozarks Small Business Incubator will facilitate the signing of the agreements and disbursement of grant awards. 
 
“We know small business are struggling due to COVID-19.  The Howell County CARES grant can provide some financial relief as businesses work to overcome the negative impact COVID has had on their business.  OzSBI is working closely with the Howell County Commission to implement this grant program and help as many  businesses as it can within the parameter of the federal CARES Act guidelines,” said Heather Fisher, OzSBI Executive Director.   
 
To apply, applicants should access the Howell County CARES Small Business Relief Program Application online at https://ozsbi.com/hocomocares. Detailed application instructions, a FAQ, and a list of required supporting documentation are posted with the application. Applicants are required to submit completed applications and documentation either in-person or by mail to OzSBI. OzSBI is located at 408 Washington Ave. in downtown West Plains. Hours for drop-off are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Mailed applications may be sent to: 
 
Ozarks Small Business Incubator (OzSBI)
408 Washington Ave.
West Plains, MO 65775
 
Program funds will be allocated to eligible businesses based on availability. All applications will be processed on a first-come, first-review basis. All applications must be received by OzSBI by December 11, 2020 for consideration. 
 
Questions regarding the Howell County CARES Small Business Relief Program application process may be directed to Autumn Shirley, Grant Administrator by email at hocomocares@ozsbi.com  or by phone at 417-256-9724. 

Since its opening in 2012, OzSBI has assisted more than 400 businesses. OzSBI’s passion is to help talented local entrepreneurs gain business skills, build relationships, get funded, and grow successful business. Our goal is to improve the economy of the Ozarks by growing businesses that create good jobs, provide new products and services, and pursue innovation. For more information, visit www.ozsbi.com or call 417-256-9724. 

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