By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
Another $200 million in federal CARES Act money is being directed to Alabama small businesses, non-profit groups and faith-based organizations impacted by COVID-19, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday.
“Revive Plus” is a second wave of funding for organizations with 50 or fewer employees. They can receive grants of up to $20,000.
“As the state has rolled out over $1 billion of the CARES Act monies to the individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, it became evident the group most overwhelmingly hurt during the pandemic were the small ‘mom and pop’ shops,” Ivey said in a written statement. “A second round of assistance through Revive Plus will ensure that the small business owners who have borne the brunt of the downed economy can be made as whole as possible. As we head into the holiday season, my hope is that this will be welcome news for our businesses and help ease their burdens from what has been a very hard year.”
The CARES Act was approved by Congress in March and sent about $1.76 billion to Alabama. In late May, state lawmakers and Gov. Ivey eventually agreed on a distribution plan to various state agencies, organizations and in some cases, individuals.
The first round of “Revive” grants, capped at $100 million, started in July and were successfully distributed by October. Ivey’s office said it worked with the Business Council of Alabama, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Alabama Restaurant Association to revisit the grant program given the continued financial stress businesses are facing.
The $200 million change announced Wednesday had to be approved by six legislative leaders, including Senate education budget committee chairman Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.
“This not only helps small businesses but also the cultural and non-profit organizations that have been devastated by Covid-19,” Orr said. “The local public performing arts theatre (Princess Theatre in Decatur) had to cancel numerous shows because of the shutdown and continued social distancing harms their ability to put people in seats. Restaurants also have been extremely hard hit due to seating limits.
“I appreciate Gov. Ivey and her team for helping all those adversely affected and for getting these funds out into the communities where it is needed most.”
Any CARES Act funds that aren’t spent by Dec. 30 have to be returned to Washington. Some state officials last month told Alabama Daily News there’s a chance that some money will be sent back, but they’re working hard to get it where it’s needed.
According to a dashboard updated daily by the Department Finance, as of early this week, $876.7 million of the state’s $1.76 billion had been spent. Leaving $881.4 million “unexpended.” But because many programs and entities are being reimbursed for COVID-related expenses, more money is going out everyday.
The $200 million was money originally dedicated to state government and other grant programs that had unspent allocations, Ivey’s office said.
“This second round of funding for Alabama entities will provide much needed resources for our state’s economy,” Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said.
Entities may access grant information and the grant application through the Coronavirus Relief Fund website. The application period for the Revive Plus Grant Program will open at noon Monday and run through noon, Dec. 4.
“This is welcome news for small businesses, non-profits and faith-based organizations that are continuing to feel the adverse effects of the Covid-19 virus,” House General Fund chairman Steve Clouse,” R-Ozark, said. “Time is of the essence and I urge all qualified entities to apply as soon as possible beginning Monday.”