Daily Record file photo by Toy Mendez
Project Recoil calls for municipal donors
The county led small business relief fund, Project Recoil, is calling for municipal donors to bolster the $500,000 set aside to kick it off.
The approved Small Business Emergency Cash Assistance Program (ECAP)will provide grants up to $10,000 in relief to local businesses struggling with the impacts of the COVID-19 economic crisis. Hays County has set aside the initial donation of $500,000 but is hopeful that local municipalities will also donate.
“We believe that ($500,000) will have a positive impact, but the needs of local businesses undoubtedly exceed the program budget," county General Counsel Mark Kennedy said. "The program is not going to be the lone solution for any local business. It is just an additional facet of the public response to the economic impacts of COVID-19.”
In collaboration with the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP) and the chambers of commerce within Hays County, a survey has been sent out to understand exactly how many businesses have been impacted and how much aid is needed.
The focus of this initial program is to provide aid to the very small businesses with less than 10 employees who didn’t get any federal relief or small business loans, said GSMP President Jason Giulietti. From survey results so far, they have found close to 50% of respondents did not receive any federal relief.
In the meantime, the county waits to hear from municipalities on whether or not they will contribute to the fund. Businesses’ eligibility will not be affected by the participation of their municipal government. The county is also open to private donations, and may work some CARES Act funding into the program.
“Municipal participation in the program will enhance communication and efficiency between our local governments, but some cities may prefer to maintain more control over their programs,” Kennedy said. For example, the City of Buda is running their own small business relief fund. “Either way, our objective of reaching local businesses remains the same.”
In the draft shared at Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting, the grants may be used for rent, pre-existing mortgages and utilities, inventory or supplies, furniture or fixtures, machinery or equipment, maintenance or repairs, payroll or employee benefits.
They cannot be used for purchase of property, for payroll or employee benefits for terminated employees, for payroll or employee benefits if the business has received a Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) Loan, personal expenses not related to the business or for the repayment of any PPP or SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance (EIDL) Loan.
The commissioners and participating municipalities will appoint a nine-person award committee to make award determinations for grants on the basis of $1,000 per qualifying employee up to a maximum of $10,000. Grants will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis.
The committee will be made up of a representative of an underserved community organization, a certified public accountant, a representative of Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, a representative of Texas State University, and five representatives residing within San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Dripping Springs, Wimberley or their extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Businesses must have been in operation since at least Jan. 1, 2019 with a location within Hays County to be eligible. They also must have good standing with the state of Texas, their city and county, all permits and licenses and have no outstanding tax liens.
Businesses who received PPP or EIDL assistance are also not eligible for the program.
Once the award committee is solidified, the program will be ready to launch, estimated to be in two to three weeks, according to Hays County.
GSMP anticipates launching some nonfinancial tools to help local businesses as they learn more from the needs assessment survey and look ahead to the new normal.