APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE UNTIL AUGUST 17TH.
Interested organizations should review the Business Grant Summary document and prepare their paperwork according to the parameters outlined in the Summary. More information will be available soon including several webinars businesses and nonprofits can attend to better understand the nature of the program.
The information below is taken from the Business Grant Summary document. This is for your general information as the official grant window is not yet open.
A digital submission form (see Attachment A for form outline) will be available via a link on the County website and any other relevant website. All documents and correspondence regarding application will go through that single application form/document upload system to allow for a single database with all initial information provided by businesses and nonprofits. The County shall reserve that system and the Business Liaison Agency and Financial Review Agency will both have access to the database, and the system will be paid for via CARES money as part of the project expenses.
Applicants will need to access the system via the web. There will be no printed applications or paper documents exchanged so that paperwork is neither lost or missing from the process and all government agencies can access the initial application information. The BLA will be responsible for coordinating with businesses that have little or no access to the internet and provide opportunities to both scan documents to provide in PDF format and computers to access the internet to upload the documents. All files must be digitized for the initial application. Cloud based systems such as Formstack or Wufoo could be used to create the forms database. It is expected than when an applicant files an application through the system that a member from the BLA calls them immediately on receipt to make contact and confirm receipt of the application.
For additional supporting documentation, or amendments to applications, a second form should be created that just has an upload and description section. This would be used for additional documents requested that were not a part of an initial application. On the additional form, applicants would include their case number (see section 6.2.) in the form for reference.
Every submission via the online application will be assigned a case number which will follow the application from start to finish. Applicants will receive a summary of their application via email and the case number will be included. When submitting additional information, upon request, applicants will include their case number referencing the previous form submission. If they do not include the case number in future submissions of additional information, the submission will be considered invalid. Applicants MUST include the case number in any follow up correspondence.
Both the BLA and the FRA will receive copies of the applications and all associated documentation via email, or will have access to the submission database and will download and review information directly. The BLA/FRA will coordinate on the review during the period allocated in the schedule (see Attachment D for a detailed schedule) and produce a coordinated report. The FRA will work in support of the BLA and report to the BLA but is expected to act generally as a separate, objective entity as it relates to providing opinions and including its insights in the final combined report. Any challenges with a coordinated effort between the BLA and FRA should be discussed directly with the Commissioners Office immediately. The BLA will be in charge of the final report and collecting data/insights from the FRA and incorporating it into the final report. The BLA will be required to communicate with all applicants on an ongoing basis to provide answers to questions and coordinate the applicants efforts. The FRA is not required to communicate directly with the applicants.
Parameters for Approval
All entities involved should understand that the purpose of this program, created in response to Federal and State Legislation, is to address the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19. Therefore, the fundamental goal of this program is to stimulate the local economy and help struggling businesses and nonprofits so the parameters of the program application have been kept liberal in order to ensure the maximum impact.
General Eligibility Compliance
Businesses and Nonprofits must comply with all elements of Section 3 of the Business Grant Summary. Nonprofits must be a Section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) nonprofit.
Demonstrated COVID-related Loss/Expense
Businesses must provide suitable documentation to demonstrate a loss or expense that is directly related to COVID. Although it will be the BLA and FRA that will review documentation and determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a COVID-related loss or expense has been generated, the following methods can be considered as part of the overall evaluation. In closing, the threshold for a COVID-related loss or expense must be generous and the BLA and FRA must use their best judgement in judging that loss but also create the widest possible threshold so that as many small businesses, with (in some cases) limited documentation, have the opportunity to participate in this program.
1-2 Years worth of bank statements (example June 2019-June 2020) which show a general decline in income or unexpected COVID-related expenses around the time of the COVID-shutdown in Pennsylvania.
Income/Expense reports generated from accounting software or CPA that shows loss of revenue or increase in COVID-related expenses.
Invoices, receipts or other proof of purchase of COVID-related materials such as PPE, expanded outdoor seating, masks, disinfectant, face shields, plexiglass shields for clerks, disinfectant wipes, renovations to allow for social distancing, etc. All expenses must be COVID-related and either reduce the spread via making areas more sanitary, provide protection for workers and the public, or allow for greater social distancing of workers and customers.
Tax Returns/Other Documents
Tax returns mixed with other current documents that show a previous year’s income averaged by month along with documentation that shows a decline in the months during the COVID-crisis (May-December 2020).
If applicants comply with all elements of Section 3 and can definitively demonstrate a COVID-related loss or expense, their applications will be evaluated to determine the recommended grant amount considering their loss based on an overall formula. For the first round of grants, which has a total allocation of $1 million, the total collective losses of all businesses that meet the criteria of Section 6.4. will be compared to the total allocation and the following formula will be used to determine the recommended grant amount which will have no minimum or maximum.
Total Grant Fund (a) ÷ Total Loss of Applicants (b) = % of Applicants Loss for Recommended Grant Award (c)
As an example, if the total loss exhibited by the applicants (in aggregate) is $1.25 million, we would divide the total grant fund ($1 million) by the $1.25 million and allow all applicants (which would show that the $1 million is 80% of the total loss of $1.25 million) to have 80% of their demonstrated COVID-related losses and expenses as their recommended grant amount. A business, in that scenario, which demonstrated a loss of $100,000 would receive a grant amount of $80,000.
Formal Approval Process
After the review period for each grant window (see Attachement D for complete schedule), the BLA and FRA will create a report with their recommendations and note. This should be considered a summary with a condensed review of each application. This will not include the detailed financial information provided by the applicant, but an overview. That overview should include the name and address summary of the business; number of employees; their status as recommended for a grant or recommended denial; an overview of their demonstrated loss and/or expense with some details on the nature of those items (summary of monthly loss of income and how that was calculated, total amount of receipts and their general nature, etc.); any other relevant data the BLA/FRA believe the Commissioners need to make a decision. The goal is to avoid the unecessary disclosure of potentially propriatery data regarding businesses, but still provide enough data for the Commissioenrs to make an informed review and for the Commissioners to know that the review was done by the BLA/FRA to the best of their ability. That report may be delivered in digital or print format to the Director of Finance and Administration of the County.
Vote at Public Meeting
The Commissioner will then add the report to a public meeting agenda and vote on it. Commissioners at that meeting may deliberate about individual items and suggest amendments. In the end, whether edited through the meeting, or left unchanged, the Commissioners will vote on the report in its entirety. Those organizations that have remained “recommended” for a grant will receive an amount agreed upon in whatever package is approved.
The BLA will be responsible for contacting all businesses that applied after the final vote on the report to let them know about their status. This should happen prior to any reporting in the local newspaper out of respect for the applicants. This may be a challenge depending on the timeframe but must be done immediately after the vote by the Commissioners.
Distribution of Funds
The BLA will coordinate with OFA to authorize checks based on the final vote by the Commissioenrs form CARES funds and make sure they are properly delivered to the approved organizations. This should happen within 10 days of the final vote.