Reynoldsburg establishes COVID-19 relief fund for businesses

KELLEY YOUMAN
editorial@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Small businesses in Reynoldsburg may now be eligible for up to $10,000 in grants for expenses related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

City Council voted unanimously Aug. 26 to establish the Reynoldsburg COVID-19 Business Relief Grant Program, using a portion of the $1.1 million the city received in CARES Act funding.

Council appropriated $300,000 for the program during a special meeting where they also voted on a separate donation to Reynoldsburg City Schools.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law March 27.

Reynoldsburg has received $1,119,777 in distributions from the state of Ohio’s share of CARES Act funds and was notified Aug. 26 it would be receiving an additional distribution of more than $500,000, Mayor Joe Begeny said.

So far, the city has spent only about $90,000 of its grant money, he said.

The city “believes that providing a portion of the CARES Act funds to small businesses in the city impacted by the effects and orders associated with the effects of COVID-19 is in the best interests of the citizens of the city of Reynoldsburg,” according to legislation presented to council.

The program allows the city “to give back to the community that has suffered with the COVID crisis,” Begeny said.

The program will cover up to $10,000 in eligible expenses incurred by a business between March 1 and Aug. 31, 2020.

To qualify, a business must have been in operation at least 12 months and have had positive revenue before the pandemic. It must be a Reynoldsburg-based, for-profit operation with fewer than 50 employees.

Examples of eligible expenses include rent/mortgage payments, utilities, salaries and wages, and personal protective equipment (PPE) or costs related to compliance with the Responsible Restart Ohio plan, according to the program application.

The program will be overseen by the Reynoldsburg Development Department, with applications accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applicants must demonstrate their business experienced a decrease in gross revenue due to COVID-19 and must provide supporting financial records or bank statements.

A committee composed of the development director, the city auditor or auditor’s representative and a member of the Reynoldsburg Area Chamber of Commerce will review all submitted grant applications “to ensure that all funds awarded to businesses impacted by COVID-19 are being used for permitted purposes,” according to legislation presented to council.

If requests exceed available funds, priority will be given to applications based on the need for assistance, the likelihood that grant funds will help retain jobs in the city and the overall impact of the grant on qualifying businesses, according to the program application.

Begeny said the city doesn’t know how many small businesses there are in Reynoldsburg but it’s “probably more than I can count.”

Schools donation

In other business, council unanimously approved a $200,000 “one-time charitable contribution” to Reynoldsburg City Schools.

According to the agreement approved by council Aug. 26, the district must use the money to “improve software options for instruction in academic and elective classes, provide access to students with limited internet options and improve server capacity of uninterrupted online learning.”

Reynoldsburg schools will be a “pass-through entity,” meaning the city will be responsible for monitoring how the district uses the money.

Under the agreement, the district is required to use the funds by Oct. 15 and must provide the city with a “full accounting of CARES Act expenses” by Oct. 30.

The city contribution is in addition to about $1.2 million the district received in CARES Act funds.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews