Richland County courthouse

Richland County Courthouse

MANSFIELD -- More local businesses will be able to apply for relief through the Richland County/Mansfield COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Fund.

Richland County commissioners unanimously approved Thursday adding $1 million to the program, which was launched in early September with COVID-19 relief funds from the county, City of Mansfield and other local governmental entities.

Commissioners also approved the creation of a $500,000 fund to which local non-profits can apply through a similar grant program.

The initial program had about $700,000, including $250,000 from the county and $250,000 from the city, and was quickly exhausted with 258 local applications.

Jodie A. Perry, president and CEO of Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, which is administering the program, told commissioners the City of Mansfield recently added another $200,000 in federal CARES Act funds.

She said that money, and about $300,000 of the new funds from the county, would allow the program to "fully fund" round one applications and allow for a second round of applications.

In the second round, the guidelines will expand to allow more businesses to participate. Companies with up to 40 employees and 2019 revenues of $4 million may apply in the second round, up from 20 employees and $1.5 million in the first round.

The maximum grant amounts remain the same: $7,500 (for 2 to 40 full-time employees) and $2,500 (for less than 2 full-time employees). Businesses that were awarded grants in the first round are not eligible for the second round.

"We want to cast a little wider net," Commissioner Marilyn John said, "to get in some businesses that didn't qualify in the first round. There were some restaurants that didn't qualify, for example, and we know restaurants have been hurt pretty severely from (the pandemic).

"There are also a couple of non-profits that are more business related, like Destination Mansfield," John said.

Perry said the Chamber hopes to have the grant applications for both the second round of small businesses and the non-profit program on its website by the end of next week.

John said 501-C-3 non-profits were not included in the initial program based upon advice from state officials. She said guidance has changed and that non-profits are indeed eligible for CARES Act funds in this manner.

The grant sizes for non-profits will be similar to the small businesses, though Perry said it's likely the grant amounts would be based on the organization's annual budget, not its number of employees.

The Chamber will be paid $25,000 to administer the second round of business grants and $20,000 to administer the non-profit program.

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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?"