Bill Headed to Gov.'s Desk that Provides $300 Million for Small Business Grants
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Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann with Lawmakers Announcing Grant Program
Lt. Gov. Hosemann- Facebook

A bill that provides $300 million dollars in grants to Mississippi small businesses affected by the coronavirus is on the way to the governor’s desk. As MPB’s Desare Frazier reports it’s the first piece of legislation passed by lawmakers using federal CARES Act money.

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Lawmakers identified 12 industries with the help of the state department of revenue that were forced to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. At a news conference yesterday, House Speaker Philip Gunn said people who work for themselves, barbers, hairdressers and limited partnerships can receive $2,000 grants without filling out an application.

“This is not something they have to go through the application process to get. This is something that’s just given to them because the government caused them to close,” said Gunn.

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann says the businesses must have filed taxes or plan to file this year. A second program provides grants of up to $25,000 that businesses with 50 employees or less can apply for. He says $40 million is set aside for 60 days--earmarked for minority and women owned operations.

“These funds are not to be made up for lost revenue, that’s so important that our Mississippi businesses that you know but for expenses that occurred according to the federal requirements. The state is required to repay this money if it’s misused for other than the things allowed under the bill,” said Hosemann.

Michael Johnson of Jackson owns a restaurant and a hair salon. He says he has 22 employees between the two businesses and some who work for themselves at his salon. Johnson says it’s helpful the relief funds aren’t loans but grants.

“If it’s a grant it makes it easier to do because then they know that it’s something they don’t have to pay it back, so they don’t have to have an extra note on them in the end,” said Johnson.

The grant program is part of the $1.25 billion the state received from the federal CARES Act. Mississippi Development Authority will administer the program. Lawmakers say it will take a little time to get the application process set-up.