The deadline for Taos County small business grants – through the CARES Act Relief Funds – is midnight tonight (Oct. 16), and many businesses are expected to apply just before the deadline.
“It’s kind of like when we were in school, we leave it until the last minute,” joked Anwar D. Kaelin, director of the Small Business Development Center at University of New Mexico-Taos. “I’d say most are probably going to do it after work today.”
Businesses that apply for grants by midnight are eligible for up to $10,000, but the proceeds must be spent on eligible business continuity expenses. These grants have been offered to for-profit and nonprofit businesses that have fewer than 50 employees working full time, but it should be noted that the grants are reimbursement grants. Businesses will not see money come directly to them, but they will be approved to submit invoices for bills they paid and be reimbursed through the grant. “You’ll get repaid for bills you paid,” Kaelin put it simply.
In order to qualify, local small businesses must have an annual revenue of $2 million dollars or less before the pandemic began. The grants plan to help businesses cover expenses such as rent, PPE, insurance, utilities and other measures that may need to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID.
As for the applications process, Kaelin said that it is just a single page. “If a business owner has their records handy, they can fill it out in 10 minutes,” he said, noting he hopes as many businesses that need help will apply. The application can be found online HERE.
However, Kaelin was quick to point out several potential speed bumps in the application, “the application, in my opinion, isn't the clearest,” he admitted. One question that Kaelin said businesses should be ready to answer is to provide a list of “COVID-19 prevention/and or mitigation costs.” This would be an itemized list of expenses that have gone directly toward keeping a business COVID-safe.
Kaelin was especially concerned about how businesses go about proving gross receipts changes due to COVID. “The metric they use is gross receipts from March and April of 2019 versus March and April of 2020,” said Kaelin.
With many businesses in Taos being seasonal and relying heavily on tourists, proving a change of income in what may be slow months for businesses like ski areas and rafting companies could be a bit harder to show.
“What we’re experiencing in the economy right now [is] a decrease in consumer spending. You can have the best business in town and you’re getting impacted by COVID,” Kaelin said, adding that the need for grant funding is crucial.
“There are still some small business loans out there,” he said, but noted that “with the market drying up, businesses can’t say that they can take on additional debt burdens.” He said he sees grants as one of the main solutions to help support small businesses, and hopes to see more federal funding reach Taos County.
Kaelin said that he will be offering help assisting businesses in filling out the application, but that for questions concerning various backend aspects of the application, business owners should contact Taos County.
Anwar Kaelin can be reached at (575) 737-6219.
Taos County government can be reached at (575) 737-6300.