City, county leaders approve help for local small businesses

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) A little help is on the way for "micro-businesses" in the City of Waco and McLennan County affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waco and McLennan County leaders Tuesday approved the launch of the Small Business Emergency Recovery Fund, a partnership to help provide funding for small businesses hurting as a result of the crisis. (Photo courtesy of Bluesky Helicopter Tours/file)

City and county leaders Tuesday approved the launch of the Small Business Emergency Recovery Fund, a partnership to help provide funding for small businesses hurting as a result of the crisis.

"The move really is more about business retention and survival of these small businesses that are so important to turning Waco around and a thriving Waco," said Waco City Councilman Jim Holmes.

“Mom and pop” businesses with 10 or fewer full-time equivalent employees don't even need to have liability insurance to apply for a $5,000 grant for operational costs to help keep them afloat as a result of revenue lost during the pandemic.

"Even though this $5,000 maybe seems like a small amount, it relieves a little bit of the burden as we start approaching the other side," Holmes said.

The city and county will each allocate $207,500 out of the Waco/McLennan County Economic Development Corporation and the $415,000 will be matched by more than $415,000 in Community Development Block Grants for COVID-related projects.

"This is pivotal for small businesses, and as a main street city, it is important that we are able to do something for our businesses that maintain the authenticity and originality that makes Waco, Waco," said Councilwoman Andrea Barefield.

“Five thousand dollars is not $1,000,000, but it's more than the doors being closed, and I hope the businesses that apply for this understand we want to do as much as we can for as many people as we can."

To qualify, businesses with ten or fewer employees must be physically located in McLennan County and have experienced loss of income due to COVID-19 between March 17 and April 30.

The website to apply will go live at 9 a.m. Wednesday with additional information on the Small Business Recovery Fund to be released at a virtual press conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Funds will be released starting May 15 after application reviews begin May 8.

The council has also approved allocating $378,000 in funds from the Economic Opportunities Advancement Corporation to assist low to moderate income people, experiencing a loss of income as a result of COVID-19, with rents, mortgages and utilities.

Assistance will be provided for as long as three months with a cap of $2,400 per household, city officials said.

Applications will be administered by the EOAC.

City officials hope to have the program come online in the next 7-10 days.

Another $10,500 was allocated to provide hotel accommodations for homeless individuals to self-quarantine.

The City of Waco will work with hotels and homeless shelters including Mission Waco, the Salvation Army, and the Family Abuse Center to identify individuals and provide them with rooms, officials said.

I think it’s very important to help and support our local businesses, our local families, and our local homeless population," said Councilman Hector Sabido.

In early April, the City of Waco was awarded $803,000 to be used to respond to the coronavirus through the CARES Act.