Etowah County Commissioners announced on Monday that they have been notified about COVID-19 relief funds available for certain businesses and county residents.
Commission President Jamie Grant said in a news release they are “pleased to be working with partner organizations to administer much-needed relief to small businesses and individuals suffering hardships as a result of the pandemic.”
Partnering with the commission are United Way of Etowah County and The Chamber of Gadsden & Etowah County. They will assist in the administration of these funds that will provide housing and utility bill assistance, alongside relief for small businesses.
“We were notified earlier this year by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs that $500,000 in grant funding had been allocated to us for certain relief in the community as part of the CARES Act,” said Shane Ellison, the county's chief administrative officer.
The funding originally was restricted to the “unincorporated Etowah County and municipalities other than the city of Gadsden,” but Ellison said that following negotiations, they were allowed to include Gadsden residents and businesses. A maximum allocation of 34% will be administered to Gadsden, based directly on the population of the city.
To prepare for administering the funding, The Chamber established a task team, which opted to provide small business grants that “would fund projects that will enhance or improve the ability to conduct business during a pandemic.”
These funds will be distributed at a max of $2,500 per business, with no more than $225,000 being distributed in this manner.
Heather New, The Chamber's president and CEO, said this would include projects such as outdoor seating and serving areas, “a walk-up or drive-up window” or a way to set up a website to conduct business online.
She said completed projects can be eligible, but those seeking funds must produce proof that their projects were not completed before Jan. 1, 2021.
Proof of project expenses also will be required, as well as Federal Employer Identification Numbers and proof of a business license in Etowah County and their respective municipalities.
Proof of completion and full payment also must be submitted for projects to be eligible. Applications for funding will be reviewed on the 15th of each month, notification of approvals will go out on the 20th and payments will be distributed on the 25th.
To apply, businesses can go to www.etowahchamber.org/grant or can make an appointment by calling 256-543-3472.
“We are grateful to be in lockstep with the County Commission and Etowah County in these recovery efforts,” New said. “Partnerships like these have been a tremendous impact, not only on the present, but the future as well.”
As for individuals, United Way Executive Director Ruth Moffatt said funds will be used to administer rental and utility assistance to qualifying residents.
“Combatting homelessness has taken center stage as one of our organization’s strategic drivers,” she said. “This grant will help keep those still recovering from economic loss as a result of this pandemic and that is a win for the entire community.”
Moffatt said the 211 First Call for Help program has resources for residents that can help them “return to a path of self-sufficiency” that “provide a hand-up, not a hand-out.”
Individuals seeking utility and mortgage assistance can call the 211 line or the toll free number at 888-421-1266 from a land or mobile phone connection and enter their local zip code.
“If there’s one thing we know for certain at United Way, it is that it takes a village,” Moffatt said, “and we are proud to be part of a strong and united village.”
This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Commissioners announce grant funds available for pandemic relief