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SB Wednesday: is your business eligible for a small business grant program?

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BLUEFIELD, W.Va (WVVA) - WVVA is helping to answer your questions about small business loans, unemployment, business reopening, and more.

Every Wednesday at 5 p.m., John O'Neal, the Executive Director of the Mercer County Economic Development Authority, is joining us on WVVA to answer viewers' questions.

Last week, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced the WV CARES Act Small Business Grant Program, which will provide West Virginia's small businesses, the backbone of the West Virginia economy, much needed relief. WVVA asked O'Neal to elaborate on this program.

O'Neal says: The WV Small Business Grant program makes up to $5,000 available to West Virginia small businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a grant to eligible businesses in the state that have suffered losses during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

There are a number of eligibility issues: the business must be a for-profit WV-based business that was in existence on March 1, 2020, with between 1 and 35 full time employees.

The business must be in good standing with the State Tax Department and WorkForce West Virginia, and not be in violation of any state order or decrees.

Currently self-employed people are not eligible for this program, though the Governor did indicate this week that he wants to include the self-employed, and he is working with the Auditor's office to try to make this happen in a way that minimizes fraud.

WVVA asked O'Neal: are there restrictions on the use of these funds, or eligible expenses?

O'Neal says: Yes, there are a number of restrictions. First, the expenses must be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible expenses include direct out of pocket expenses, such as purchases of PPE for staff and costs of re-stocking inventory in order to reopen, as well as losses due to business closures, reduced sales, or suspended operations.

A complete list of eligible expenses and losses is available on the Governor's website.

WVVA asked O'Neal: has the deadline passed for the federal small business aid programs?

O"Neal says: No, these programs are open a little while longer. The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses. The deadline for the PPP application has been extended through August 8. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is also still receiving applications.

For more information:

a detailed list of eligibility requirements and the application process for the WV Small Business Cares Act can be found here. Applications for the federal loan and grant programs can be found here.

Melinda Zosh

Evening Anchor and Producer

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