Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey released plans Thursday to distribute $98 million in grants to be used to provide small businesses with financial relief and support the child care sector.
“This pandemic has forced Arizonans to make many sacrifices over recent months. These dollars are going where they can have an immediate impact — to help our families and businesses in need of support,” Ducey said.
Eighty eight million dollars of the grants comes courtesy of the CARES Act, a sweeping federal relief package passed in March, while the other $10 million is derived from Arizona’s Crisis Contingency and Safety Net Fund.
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) expressed support for the initiative, saying, “Today’s announcement that $10 million in new grants will be distributed is a great step forward in providing much-needed relief, and it is exactly why the Legislature acted to establish the fund earlier this year.”
The state’s House and Senate Republican Caucuses’ endorsement of the Governor’s announcement can be found here.
Small business relief, partnership with Local First
The Governor’s Office announced the creation of the $10 million Arizona Small Business Rent and Mortgage Relief grant fund, from which the state government commits “to help the most vulnerable businesses meet their financial obligations” during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic recession.
“…we want to continue to be there for all the small businesses that have given so much to our communities,” Ducey said. “Many businesses who received Paycheck Protection Program loans quickly expended their funds on payroll and utilities as the emergency extended beyond the funding window for the forgivable loans. The new Grant program will be available to grantees who may continue to face hardship despite leveraging other programs.”
With a maximum grant size of $25,000, the state government is prepared to process applications and dole out much-needed financial assistance to small businesses in need. Furthermore, cities and municipalities may choose to expand the program at their convenience.
Partnering with Local First Arizona , “Arizona’s Voice for Small Businesses”, the state is confident that the organization’s “grant making… and small business expertise” will make it easier for small businesses to successfully apply for the grant program.
Beginning today, grant applications will become available to the public. For more information on the program and how to apply, visit Local First Arizona’s small business relief hub here.
Small businesses employ half of American workers, and 56% of the jobs at risk due to the coronavirus outbreak are created by small businesses.
In Arizona there are more than 550,000 small businesses. According to the Arizona Commerce Authority, these 550,000 businesses employ over 1 million Arizonans.
Distribution of funds, child care support
The Governor’s Office says that additional funds would be distributed as follows:
- Childcare COVID-19 Grant Program ($47m) — This grant is targeted towards “salaries and benefits for employees, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) licensing fees, liability insurance, tuition and registration relief for families, lease or mortgage payments, utilities, cleaning supplies, classroom materials and supplies, and additional needs required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ADHS guidelines” that further the provision of “high-quality childcare”.
- Arizona Enrichment Centers Program ($24m) — Investing $24 million in Arizona’s essential workers, the additional dollars being directed towards the Arizona Enrichment Centers Program will provide “priority childcare services and scholarships for first responders, health care workers, and other essential personnel”.
- Increase Paid Absences ($7m) — By further funding the program, the state government will “increase the allowance of keeping a student home from child care by three days, totaling five absences a month per child”. Through extending the number of allowed absences, state officials hope to give parents and families the flexibility to keep children isolated in case of potential illness.
- Childcare Reserve ($10m) — A safety net, the Childcare Reserve program has been apportioned $10 million in order to address a potential “childcare subsidy waitlist that might develop in the fall due to the current economic climate and address other unforeseen child care providers’ needs that might arise”.