Lexington’s $2.5 million program for small businesses opens Tuesday. How to apply.

·2 min read

An economic stimulus program that will award up to $2.5 million in grants to qualifying small businesses in Fayette County will start taking applications Tuesday.

The program will allow eligible small businesses to apply for up to $25,000 based on sustaining or increasing employment or total payroll within one year. If those businesses can maintain those employment or payroll goals, the loan will not have to be repaid.

If businesses fail to meet those employment targets, the loan will have to be repaid, according to Commerce Lexington, which is managing the small business stimulus program through its Access Loan program.

For example, if a business received a $25,000 loan to retain 10 employees but only retained eight after a year, the company would have to repay 20 percent of the loan or $5,000 plus 2 percent interest.

The program’s goal is for 50 percent of all funds to go to women- and minority-owned businesses or businesses in poorer neighborhoods.

To meet the guidelines for the program, businesses must:

  • Be located in Lexington/Fayette County.

  • Have a current business license filed with the city.

  • Have been in operation since Jan. 1, 2021.

  • Restricted to sole proprietors, limited liabilities, corporations, not-for-profits or non-profits.

  • Maximum of 50 full-time equivalent employees (max of 100 for restaurants).

  • All business taxes, payroll taxes and other payments to the city and state must be current.

  • Show ability to retain or exceed current employment and/or payroll levels.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council gave final approval to the program earlier this month. The council set aside $2.5 million and may set aside a second $2.5 million if there is demand.

The money will likely come from an expected $122 million the city is expected to receive over the next two years from federal coronavirus stimulus funds.

“Small businesses in Lexington and across the country have been hit hard by fallout from the pandemic,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “The more support we provide, the faster our economy will rebound.”

A similar 2020 grant program gave $2.3 million to 168 small businesses and nonprofits to help cover pandemic-related costs during the height of business-related shutdowns caused by the coronavirus. Commerce Lexington also oversaw that program.

Commerce Lexington President and CEO Bob Quick said, “I would like to especially thank council member Preston Worley for taking the lead on this issue, as well as the members of the Urban County Council for providing multiple rounds of grant funding for small businesses.”

To find out more about the eligibility requirements, get the documentation necessary to apply, and access the application online, visit www.commercelexington.com/recovery.html. For questions about the application process, contact Tyrone Tyra at either (859) 226-1625 or (859) 226-1631, or e-mail ttyra@commercelexington.com.

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