Greenville County has distributed funds allocated for small business relief to just 500 local businesses, for a total of about $3 million, with $72 million still available, according to county records.
The funds are part of a $91 million grant from the federal government through the CARES Act, eligible for counties with a population of 500,000 or greater. Greenville County is the only county in South Carolina to qualify.
County General Affairs Coordinator Bob Mihalic said the county is now trying to get the word out to let businesses know “they’re leaving free money on the table.”
“I understand a lot of business owners might be ‘application-ed out’ after all this time, but this is really easy money to get,” Mihalic said.
The money is earmarked for small businesses — meaning businesses that employ 50 people or fewer — that operate within Greenville County. Each business can receive up to $10,000 for COVID-19 related expenses, incurred from March 2020 onward, which does not include lost revenue. This can include a broad range of expenses, everything from cleaning supplies to new equipment for remote workers, and also includes rent and utilities while businesses were shuttered due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
“If you show us the receipts, you get the money,” Mihalic said. “One company, for instance, built an outdoor seating area to add more seating. That was approved. Other companies bought computers for remote workers, and we covered that. It’s very broad.”
Those wishing to apply to receive up to $10,000 per business need only prove that the business is, first and foremost, a real business. Each business must then show it has been operating since before September 2019, according to federal guidelines, and that the business is located within Greenville County.
“It has to be a brick-and-mortar place, but that includes if you work at home, too,” Mihalic said. “Bring your W-3s, your W-9s, and something to prove you paid your property taxes. You’ll want a business license if you’re located in a municipality.”
Mihalic said the $75 million amount allocated for small business was a figure chosen in case all 11,000 or so small businesses in the county applied for funds. The rest of the money was allocated for public health, housing and rent assistance, childcare and support for special purpose districts.
“We knew that was probably too much but wanted to make sure we prioritize small businesses,” Mihalic said.
The money has to be distributed before the end of the year, per federal guidelines, or it must be given back to the federal government. Mihalic said if not enough businesses apply for the funds, they will be put to use elsewhere, with public health, child care and rent and housing assistance being considered.
“This is a novel situation,” he said. “We may want to slide some money around later, but we know this is far from over. We’re still getting a lot of applications.”
Those wishing to apply should visit greenvillecounty.org.
“Go there and you’ll get just about smacked in the face with the Greenville County CARES Act logo and link,” Mihalic said. “We explain it all and make it super easy for you. And there’s a phone number too, with actual humans on the other line. Give us a call if you have any questions.”