Small businesses in Queen Creek can apply for up to $12,500 each to offset the costs of safety measures due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We want to assist the town’s business community with economic relief and enhance the health, safety and welfare of the town’s residents and others utilizing and working in businesses within the town limits,” Economic Development Director Doreen Cott said at a recent council meeting.
“The town will reimburse or help offset the costs to those small businesses for expenses related to enhanced sanitization, employee safety and customer safety,” she said.
A total of $500,000 has been set aside for the grant program. Funds will be distributed based on the number of full-time-equivalent workers the business employed on March 1. Businesses can begin applying on Monday, July 20, by going to InvestTheQC.com/Together.
“For each full-time-equivalent, the grant program will provide $500 to be used to, again, offset those costs in connection with enhanced sanitization, employee safety, and customer safety; with a maximum eligible award per business at $12,500,” Ms. Cott said.
To qualify for funds, the owner must certify that they are a “small business” as defined by the Small Business Act and they have implemented a program of [sanitation] and safety, she said.
The Town Council on July 1 voted unanimously to approve a resolution for the program with an emergency clause. On the dais were Mayor Gail Barney and Councilmembers Jake Hoffman and Robin Benning. Meeting by WebEx were Vice Mayor Julia Wheatley and Councilmembers Jeff Brown and Dawn Oliphant. Councilmember Emilena Turley was absent.
A unanimous approval by all six council members was required for the emergency clause calling for the program to be effective immediately, Town Attorney Scott Holcomb said.
“For me, this is really an example of how government should help people. It’s an emergency,” Mr. Benning said prior to the vote.
“We have a really big issue right now that our small businesses are facing, and in Queen Creek, we really try hard to help our small businesses. So I am so proud to be able to offer this assistance. As small as it may see to some people, it’s going to be the difference for many businesses between being able to stay open and protect their employees and continue to do business and not being able to,” he said.
The resolution initially called for the funds to only be for “brick-and-mortar” businesses, but that language was removed in the motion for approval made by Mr. Hoffman to include home-based businesses.
“They have ‘full-time-equivalents’ as well. It might be one person, it might be the owner of the business, or they might have employees or they might have other folks who are out interfacing, whether that’s a Realtor, a financial advisor or insurance consultant who are out there taking the same types of precautions to ensure the safety of the Queen Creek community. I would like to remove that ‘brick and mortar’ piece if council agrees with that idea,” he said.
Mr. Hoffman’s motion also included that the program be for businesses with full-time-equivalent employees or contractors.
“The small-business sector that didn’t get widespread media attention that most people don’t think of right off the bat are the home-based businesses. Those are by far the majority of the small businesses in our community,” he said. “It’s the massage therapist who contracts some space at the local chiropractor’s office, and that person wasn’t allowed to work,” he said.
The money is not from pandemic-related expenditure grant funding to states and local governments made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, Heather Wilkey, the town’s intergovernmental relations manager, said.
Those funds will be spent on fire department and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office personnel costs, she said at the council meeting.
Queen Creek received $5,842,506 in CARES Act funds, Ms. Wilkey said.
“Eligible expenses for those are public health and safety, regular salary and employee-related expense costs that we’ve incurred since March 1 and then are anticipating to occur through Dec. 30, 2020. So for Queen Creek, our finance team has submitted our fire personnel costs as well as our MCSO contract costs to equal the $5.8 million appropriation there,” she said.