BOISE — Self-employed residents will be able to tap into the $300 million in grant money Idaho has set aside to help small businesses financially harmed by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Brad Little announced Monday.
The Republican governor said the state will take applications beginning May 27 for the $7,500 grants. Individuals must earn at least 50 percent of their income from their self-employed work to qualify.
“Expanding this resource to self-employed business owners should help them get back on their feet and relieve some of the financial loss brought about by this unexpected and unwelcome virus,” Little said in a statement.
About 2,600 businesses with as many as 19 employees applied for grants of $10,000 last week, adding as many as about $26 million. Businesses with as many as 50 employees are applying this week. But there are expected to be fewer of them seeking the grants than the smaller businesses, said Alex Adams, administrator of the Idaho Division of Financial Management.
He said that’s because many businesses are already being covered by loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program.
In that program, loans can be forgiven if the money is spent within eight weeks of receiving it. Businesses must also use at least 75 percent of it for salaries, with the remainder limited to rent, mortgage interest and utility expenses.
The $300 million being distributed as part of Little’s Idaho Rebounds strategy is intended to help businesses or individuals who haven’t found help from the Small Business Administration or elsewhere.
“Right now, we’re really focused on those who have fallen through the cracks,” said Adams, who also heads the governor’s coronavirus financial advisory committee.
The $300 million the state is distributing to small businesses, and now the self-employed, is from the $1.25 billion it received in federal virus rescue dollars. It needs to be used between March 1 and December 30.
In all, Little has approved spending about $455 million. Counties are getting about $44 million and cities about $42 million, with allocations based on population. State agencies are getting about $58 million, while special-purpose taxing districts are getting $7 million. Tribal governments are getting about $634,000. Small businesses are also getting $2 million for personal protection equipment.
Adams said the $800 million that hasn’t been allocated is being held in reserve.
Little has a four-stage plan to return the state to near normal activity by the end of June. On May 1, he lifted his stay-at-home order that lasted more than a month. The state is currently in the second of the four stages toward reopening, with dining in restaurants now allowed and gatherings of as many as 10 people.
The state has 2,419 confirmed cases and 73 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University on Monday.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. But it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death for some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.