Richland County courthouse

Richland County Courthouse

MANSFIELD -- Richland County commissioners discussed Tuesday adding another $1 million of CARES Act funds to the local small business emergency relief grant program.

A decision could come as soon as Thursday, when commissioners may also create a separate $500,000 program with COVID-19 relief funds to offer grants to non-profits in the county.

A total of 273 small businesses applied for the $500,000 grant program funded by the county and the City of Mansfield, with both entities putting in federal COVID-19 relief dollars approved by Congress in March as the pandemic began.

Commissioner Marilyn John said Tuesday the additional $1 million would "fully fund" round one, meaning every eligible business that applied would receive funds.

The maximum grant is $7,500 for a business with between two and 20 employees and $2,500 for a sole entrepreneur.

The additional money would allow for a second round of applications.

John said she is working with Jodie Perry, president/CEO at Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, which is administering the program, to revise eligibility requirements that could allow more small businesses to participate, including those with more than 20 employees.

The funds would come from the county's third round of CARES Act funds, approved by Congress in March and released in stages by the state. The county received $4.3 million in the third round.

Commissioners had previously approved spending $2.5 million from the third round for salaries and benefits in the sheriff's department, a move that could also improve the county's general fund bottom line.

In total, Richland County commissioners have reported receiving $7.4 million in CARES Act funds.

Mansfield City Council on Oct. 6 approved adding another $200,000 to the program from its third-round allocation of $1.6 million. The City of Mansfield has received a total of $4.2 million in the three rounds.

John said the application for non-profits is still being developed in consultation with the Chamber, the United Way of Richland County, the Richland County Foundation and the Shelby Foundation.

Also on Tuesday, commissioners:

-- accepted the resignation of Vicki Shook from the Richland County Transit Board, where she also served as chair. Commissioners approved Gabe Zader, the current vice chair, to become the chairman. Commissioners are seeking a replacement for Shook, whose term on the board was due to end at the end of 2020.

-- heard from Dayspring Director Michelle Swank that the 30-year-old elevator at the county home, damaged by a fire Oct. 10, is beyond repair and needs to be replaced. She is seeking cost estimates and said she has been told to expect between $50,000 and $100,000. She said the non-working elevator is creating hardships for residents and staff.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"