Fort Bend County made some changes to allow more businesses to apply and receive funds from its Small Business Emergency Grant Program as part of the CARES Act.

The county’s commissioners’ court approved new guidelines to allow different kinds of small businesses to get the proper kind of funding to help overcome some of the setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new guidelines allow those businesses that received federal funds from the Paycheck Protection Program to be eligible to receive funds from the local program. It also allows businesses of different sizes to get funding that can help them in the short term.

For example, small businesses with annual sales from $25,000 to $100,000 per year would receive a grant of $5,000. Businesses with sales up to $2 million would receive a $15,000 grant, and businesses with sales from $2 to $5 million would get a $25,000 grant.

Another change is the allocation of $12 million of the $13 million of contingency funds and $5 million of the $7 million the county has for its COVID-19 budget to give to the program for a total of $38 million.

“I think that this is the right move that is going to help a lot of are struggling businesses to get back into business and rehire some of our county residents who unfortunately find themselves unemployed as a result of businesses being shut down,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers said. “So hopefully we’re getting back a little bit closer to normal.”

Meyers and Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage worked with county auditor Ed Sturdivant to make the changes to the guidelines. The moves are expected to increase the number of applicants to the program, which Sturdivant said could be at 2,500 businesses.

“We’re at 721 (applicants to the program) as of right now, and the reason for doing this is we’re hoping to get more applicants,” Studivant said.

The changes are expected to be made to the county’s website in the next couple of days to reflect the new changes to the program.

“Please spread the word and it is important (businesses) go and apply,” County Judge KP George said. “Don’t make any judgment by themselves whether they qualify or not.”

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