The town of Harrisburg has created a Small Business COVID-19 Grant Program designed to help local small businesses financially recover from the effects of COVID-19.
The program is funded from the federal CARES Act funds that were distributed to the town by Cabarrus County. Businesses within Harrisburg’s town limits can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 for aid in response to the pandemic.
The town allocated $24,000 of its CARES Act funds for the program.
Before the program was open to the public, it was first approved by the town council at its Nov. 9 meeting.
During the November meeting, Town Manager Haynes Brigman said that the program will give out grants for up to eight businesses in the town limits.
But the idea of financial assistance provided by the town was first brought up during the town council’s Oct. 12 meeting, when Harrisburg Printing Inc. owner Chris Almond addressed the council about hardships businesses in Harrisburg were facing.
Almond said he had lost 80% of his income since the pandemic started.
“If you own property that your business is in, your property taxes were increased dramatically. After viewing mine, I was shocked that they had increased by 41.2% which, in my opinion, is unacceptable, since I have not changed a thing,” Almond said.
He stated that he had requested an adjustment from the county, but due to a potential postal error, he never received the notice of property tax increase in time to have the adjustment made.
Almond stated that other businesses in Harrisburg had also missed the property tax adjustment deadline due to potential postal error.
“I think it is truly unfair to all of us who are hurting financially to have this burden of tax increase during a time when we are put into a situation which we have no control of,” Almond said.
Council member Ian Patrick requested that town staffers look into provided financial aid to local businesses from town funds available for appropriation from the town council.
Council member Troy Selberg agreed and said he had spoken with several business owners in the area.
“I had spoken not just with Chris Almond but with others within our community who are struggling greatly during these unprecedented times and are just trying to make ends meet,” Selberg said. “None of them are requesting that taxes be waived.”
Selberg explained that local business owners were asking for the opportunity to pay their property taxes in installments instead of a lump sum.
As a result of the Oct. 12 meeting, town staffers put together a proposal for the Small Business COVID-19 Grant Program and presented it to council at the Nov. 12 meeting. It was approved unanimously, with Council member Rick Russo marked as a “yes” due to his lack of response during the vote.
A town panel will select program applicants based on need and first-come, first-served basis. Businesses that are within the town limits and can demonstrate a negative impact related to COVID-19 are eligible to apply.
During the Nov. 12 meeting, Brigman, the town manager, did explain that the selection process for the grants will rank the businesses based on certain criteria. For example, businesses that have already received state, federal or other government relief for the pandemic will be given less priority. Businesses that are brick and mortar mom-and-pop shops will be given more priority over franchises and national chains.
All applications for the grant program are due by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30.
All grant funds must be used for business operation purposes that occurred between July 1 and Nov. 30. Funds can not be used for goods and services, equipment, products, facility improvements, signage, advertising or non-operational expenses.
Applications can be emailed to Brian Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org, mailed to Brian Lee, Town of Harrisburg, PO BOX 100, Harrisburg, NC 28075 or dropped off at Customer Service in Town Hall at 4100 Main St., Harrisburg.