A multimillion-dollar assistance program for Ketchikan businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic is set to start taking applications July 1. This comes as two other relief programs targeted at businesses and nonprofits are accepting applications now.
Borough and city policymakers allotted $5.4 million in federal CARES Act aid for the business relief program at their respective meetings earlier this month. So who’s eligible?
“Businesses with an average of $25,000 per quarter or $100,000 in a year are eligible if they’ve suffered a decline of more than 40% of their sales,” said borough Finance Director Cynna Gubatayao.
If approved, Gubatayao said each business could recoup roughly 10% of the revenue it lost, based on three months of 2019 earnings compared with the same period in 2020. So if a business made $100,000 less this year than it did last year during that time, it would be eligible for a $10,000 grant. And because it’s not a loan, it never needs to be paid back.
Borough officials will determine how much money each business is eligible for by reviewing sales tax records. But what about businesses that don’t remit sales taxes?
“Submit the application anyway, so that we can review and look and see if there’s some business demographic that we’ve missed through this program,” Gubatayao said. “It gives us an opportunity to make adjustments in and expand the program if we need to.”
There are a host of exceptions that look to prevent large, out-of-town companies from getting local relief funds: publicly-traded corporations, chain stores and those without a year-round presence in Ketchikan won’t be eligible. Nor are bankrupt businesses, nor those who have liens for unpaid taxes. And given that it’s federal money, marijuana businesses aren’t eligible, either.
But unlike the state-run AK CARES program, Gubatayao says businesses are eligible no matter how much aid they’ve received from the federal government. The state program is only available to those who accept no more than $5,000 in Paycheck Protection Program funds and other federal aid.
“We specifically decided not to eliminate businesses based on having accepted those other forms of assistance,” Gubatayao said. “Our assumption is that business owners are doing everything they can to keep their businesses afloat during this time.”
And the business aid is unrestricted, so companies can spend it on whatever they’d like: from payroll to debt to rent to capital investment.
“We’ll review all the applications that we have in hand three weeks into the program and then depending on the demand for the program, we will either start issuing checks to businesses at that point, or we may have to go to the assembly and discuss modifications to the program if the demand far exceeds the funding available,” Gubatayao said.
Applications can be dropped off or mailed to the borough offices or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Officials are directing questions on the business aid program to 228-6620.
Nonprofit assistance fund
While the multimillion-dollar business assistance fund isn’t taking applications yet, two local business and nonprofit grant programs to distribute federal coronavirus relief funds started taking applications Friday, according to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.
Nonprofits can apply for grants of up to $20,000 at the borough’s website. Applications close July 15, and after that, it’ll be up to the borough’s Grant Committee to divvy up $200,000 in borough CARES Act money. That committee is made up of two Borough Assembly members — Sue Pickrell and Alan Bailey — and three members of the public.
According to the borough’s website, committee members will consider the impact of the pandemic on each nonprofit, what services they provide and what each nonprofit intends to use the money on.
Nonprofit assistance applications can be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to the borough offices.
Protective equipment reimbursement
Applications are also open for a program intended to reimburse businesses and nonprofits for protective gear, disinfectants and hardware intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Businesses can submit receipts for up to $1,000 worth of expenses since March 1. They’ll be processed on a first-come, first-served basis until the $200,000 allotted for the program runs out. Applications are open through the end of September.
Applications for reimbursement must be either mailed or hand-delivered to KGB Planning Department, 1900 First Avenue, Suite 126, Ketchikan, AK 99901. The planning department can be reached at 228-6610.
Other aid programs
It’s unclear when city-administered relief programs will start taking applications. Ketchikan City Manager Karl Amylon says utility and harbor fee relief programs will likely come up for a final City Council vote early next month. Other programs — child care assistance, housing payment assistance and city-run nonprofit aid — could also be approved at that point, though it wasn’t clear Monday whether they’d be ready in time for the July 2 meeting.