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The city of Harrisonburg announced it would be giving out $750,000 worth of grants to businesses as part of a new program to support local employers and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our businesses have endured so much during this pandemic,” Brian Shull, the city’s economic development director, said in a press release. “I am thankful to City Council for allocating these funds to help Harrisonburg businesses cover some of their expenses during these uncertain times. We want to do whatever we can to help them keep the lights on and the doors open.”

The grants will range from $4,000 to $10,000 depending on the number of full-time employees, according to an email from Michael Parks, the city spokesman.

“There’s a lot of need out there for a lot of small businesses,” said Frank Tamberrino, the president and CEO of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce.

Parks said there is not a predetermined number of grants the city will award.

The window to apply for a grant begins today and ends Aug. 27 at 5 p.m., according to the Harrisonburg Economic Development Department website.

To be eligible for the grants, a locally owned and operated for-profit business must have been running on or before Jan. 1 and must make at least $25,000 a year in revenue, but not more than $5 million, according to the grant application form. The firm must also demonstrate that at least quarter of its revenue was lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that it is up to date on city taxes.

Businesses ineligible for the loans include non-locally owned franchises or chains not headquartered in the city, banks, nonprofits, contractors on digital platforms, such as Uber and Airbnb, or multilevel and network marketing, such as Mary Kay and Avon, home-based businesses and those engaged in rental real estate speculation or investment, according to the application form.

City businesses with between one to three full-time employees will be eligible for up to $4,000. Firms with four to 10 employees could receive up to $6,000, according to Parks.

Firms employing 11 to 25 people could receive up to $8,000, while those with 26 to 100 employees could receive up to the maximum amount of $10,000, according to Parks.

“The type of business won’t factor in to the decision on awarding grants, though the amount of employees they have will,” Parks said.

The money for the grants is sourced from roughly $4.6 million the city received as part of the federal CARES Act, Parks said.

In total, $850,000, or 18.4%, of the CARES Act funding is slated for use on businesses — $750,000 in these new grants and $100,000 to cover previous loans that were transitioned to grants, according to Parks.

“People tend to watch the national news, and things like the city putting money on the table really sort of brings it home,” Tamberrino said.

Rockingham County also created a small-business grant program using $500,000 from the CARES Act, which 33 businesses received funding from.

Tamberrino said many businesses have seen other support run out, such as federal Paycheck Protection Program loans meant to help businesses keep employees on payroll and Economic Injury Disaster Loans meant to help stymie revenue losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There was a wave of help at first, but this situation just keeps dragging on, so businesses are still trying to figure out what the new normal is and how to make it another couple months,” Tamberrino said.

Contact Ian Munro at 574-6278 or imunro@dnronline.com. Follow Ian on Twitter @iamIanMunro

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