On Wednesday night, the Mississippi Legislature passed legislation that will appropriate $300 million for small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.
“The real heroes here are the House members and the Senators who voted to do this,” said Speaker Gunn. Members were working until midnight on Wednesday to get the measure passed.
Gunn and Hosemann both said small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. The idea brought forward by this legislation will help businesses who were hurt the most by the forced closures. This $300 million is roughly 25 percent of the CARES Act money.
Gunn said this is the start, Legislature could still come back when they return for session and appropriate more.
“We are one of the first states in the country to allocate our money. Mississippi is taking the lead and other states are looking at what we are doing. I’m very proud of our Senators and Representatives,” said Lt. Governor Hosemann.
Businesses who were forced to close will immediately receive $2,000 out of $60 million appropriated to the relief fund. They are still able to go through the application and receive up to $25,000. Those grants will first go to those businesses who did not receive PPP loans.
Another $240 million were put in the Back to Business fund which will go to businesses who sustained operating costs they could not cover due to the pandemic. These dollars apply to businesses with 50 or less full time employees that meet other requirements. The grants will be given through the Mississippi Development Authority.
$40,000 million was also set aside for minority businesses and will be set aside for 60 days to allow time for applications to be submitted.
These dollars must be used in accordance with federal guidelines. If not, Mississippi will be forced to pay it back. Any money left over after November 1, 2020 will be at the discretion of Governor Reeves.
Below is the press released sent out by the Senate:
Small businesses across the State which closed as a result of COVID-19 may soon get a boost from a bill sent to the Governor today.
Senate Bill 2772 sets aside $300 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to create two programs providing a direct payment to some businesses and a grant to others. The direct payment program would provide qualifying businesses which shut down — including hair stylists, fitness centers, and some restaurants — a flat $2,000 check. All small businesses with 50 or less employees that experienced interruption can apply for the “Back to Business Mississippi Grant Fund,” authorizing up to $25,000 for costs incurred as a result of the virus.
The legislation provides $60 million to the direct payment program and $240 million to grants. For the first 60 days, $40 million from the grant program will be set aside for minority-owned businesses. For the first 21 days of the application period for the grant program, only businesses which did not receive funds from the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance, any other federal program, or compensation from business interruption insurance will be considered.
“When Mississippi’s economy is thriving, it is because our small businesses are thriving. This crisis has hit our small businesses hard,” Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said. “We need to support them now by pushing the money the federal government provided to the State down to them as quickly as possible.”
To qualify under either program, a business must:
- Have registered with the Mississippi Department of Revenue on or before March 1, 2020;
- Have filed state taxes for the 2018 or 2019 tax year, or plan to file state taxes for 2020 (only businesses which were created on or after January 1, 2020);
- Not be a subsidiary of a business with 50 or less employees, or be part of or owned by a larger business enterprise with 50 or less employees; and
- Be controlled by one or more Mississippi residents.
The programs are available to all small businesses, including sole proprietorships.
The Mississippi Development Authority, the State’s economic arm, will administer the grant program. The agency may retain up to $900,000 to administer the program. The direct payment program will be administered by the Mississippi Department of Revenue and the Department of Finance and Administration.
The full text of the bill is available here: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2020/pdf/SB/2700-2799/SB2772SG.pdf. To learn more about Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, visit www.ltgovhosemann.ms.gov.