79 applicants eligible for relief funds: Board of Supervisors OK’d the federal funding on Tuesday
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved $250,000 to help several businesses already identified to receive the funding.
Making a case for funding before the supervisors was Emily Blackmer, economic development project manager, and Kristin York, vice president of business innovation of the Nevada County Relief Fund. Blackmer explained it is she who often informs applicants they are recipients of a grant.
“It is the best part of my day,” Blackmer said. “The folks who receive a grant are so profoundly grateful. So, I say ‘thank you’ for facilitating this.”
This was a fifth round of funding assisted by the Nevada County Relief Fund. It, along with government agencies and donors, have provided a combined $1.3 million of which half was comprised of small, private contributions, since April 2020 — a month after the pandemic forced shutdowns across the country.
It is one of the best examples of a public/private partnership, said Caleb Dardick, projects administrator for the County Executive Office. Yet this particular allocation is solely part of the federal support the county received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The micro-grants would not have existed if it had not been for the supervisors’ leadership, Dardick said.
“We had no idea whether the community would respond in kind or if it was a feasible thing for anyone to do,” he said. “But we’re really proud of the way the Sierra Business Council came up with the idea of micro-grants.”
A business with more than five employees can get $5,000; a business with two to five can receive $2,500; and a sole proprietorship can get $1,250.
Blackmer said 79 applicants are eligible to receive a total of $192,500. That leaves a balance that could be applied to a future round of grants.
“We’re not planning any further funding rounds at this time,” said Dardick. The remaining balance will be held in reserve.
There were 56 first-time recipients (70%) and 23 second-time recipients. Two-thirds of the recipients are from western Nevada County and the other third are from east county.
The application period ended last month.
In the selection process, county staff reviewed all applications for eligibility. An ad hoc committee made sure there was a balance across the types of business sectors that included retail, arts and entertainment, barber shops and beauty salons, restaurants and cafes. Another review was done by the county municipalities to assure fairness. And a final review was done by a community advisory committee.
York said there were a plethora of challenges. Despite the pandemic there was demand for consumer goods, though numerous supply chain shortages that went beyond just lumber.
She added the drought is also affecting commerce. Farmers are letting some fields fallow. Mask mandates and social distancing requirements also impacted businesses.
“We all know there’s hiring challenges and it’s really heartbreaking for restaurants who cannot attract talent because of last summer’s shutdowns, and then when they reopened they had limited hours,” said York. “Real estate and construction were hit by supply chain shortages that includes plumbing, steel and glass.”
William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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