WINCHESTER — Gov. Ralph Northam announced this week a new grant program totaling $70 million for small businesses and nonprofit organizations whose normal operations were disrupted by COVID-19.

The program is being touted as Rebuild VA. Grants will be for up to $10,000 and will be awarded to approximately 7,000 applicants to cover eligible expenses.

The initiative will be administered by the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity with applications becoming available starting Aug. 10.

Northam said half of the program funds will be distributed to eligible small businesses and nonprofits operating in low-income and economically disadvantaged communities.

“We recognize that small businesses and non-profit organizations are essential to the strength and vibrancy of our communities,” Top of Virginia Regional Chamber CEO Cynthia Schneider said in praising the grant program. “This type of funding will play a vital role in their ability to continue providing employment opportunities, and supplying needed products and services.”

In releasing the details on the program, Northam called small businesses and nonprofits the “backbone of the Virginia economy and the bedrock of our communities.”

“Rebuild VA will help address the vast challenges that small businesses and nonprofits across our Commonwealth are facing as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Northam said. “Because many of the affected small businesses and nonprofits located in distressed and economically disadvantaged areas of Virginia, we are designating a portion of this funding to ensure they get the support they need.”

The grant can be used to cover payroll support, including sick, medical or family leave, and costs relation to the condition of group health care benefits during those periods of leave; employee salaries; mortgage, rent and utility payments; principal and interest payments for any business loans from national or state-chartered banking, savings and loan institutions or credit unions that were incurred before or during the emergency.

Those rewarded the grant cannot use it to pay dividends and bonuses; disburse the money to owners except when directly related to performance of services; repay stockholder or principal loans; expand facilities or acquire fixed assets not directly related to COVID-19 response; repair or replace physical damage; refinance debt; pre-pay or pay off loans; or for relocation expenses.

Eligibility requirements show businesses must be organized as either a corporation, pass-through entity or other legal entity that is organized separately from the owner; a 501©(3) or 501©(19) veterans organization; a sole proprietorship; or an independent contractor.

The business or organization must also fall within one of the following categories: restaurant and beverage services; non-essential brick and mortar retail; fitness and exercise facilities; personal care and personal grooming services; entertainment and public amusement; or private campgrounds and overnight summer camps.

The applicant must have a principal place of business in Virginia, have 25 or fewer employees, have a gross revenue of less than $1.5 million in the last fiscal year; have been operating prior to March 12, 2020, is currently in good standing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and must engage in legal activity.

The following applications are ineligible: Applicants that are not individually owned and operated; applicants that have already received CARES Act funding; applicants that are delinquent on state income taxes and do not have a payment plan in place; lobbyists; or owners or principals of the business with 20% or more ownership interest that are more than 60 days delinquent on child support obligations.

For information on how to submit an application, visit www.governor.virginia.gov/rebuildva/.

— Contact Matt Welch at mwelch@winchesterstar.com

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