Healthy Sustainable Communities was hired by the city to help manage the grant programs. The firm has set up a website, TalentGRANTS.com, which contains the application form.
Approximately $ 100,000 in grants are available from the Town of Talent for businesses and nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications must be received by June 11.
Funding comes from the federally approved CARES law for pandemic relief in spring 2020. The money must be distributed by June 30 or it must be returned.
“Our businesses that are the economic lifeblood of the city have been hit hard, as have the nonprofits that often go unnoticed to help the community,” said Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Interim City Manager.
As of June 3, 40 applications had been received from restaurants, retail stores, nonprofits, healthcare and physiotherapy providers, and small repair facilities, said Jon Legarza, including the company Healthy Sustainable Communities administers the city’s grant program.
Ease of application is a focus for grants. A simple online application is designed to take no more than five minutes.
“We wanted to make the bid as easy as possible and just cast a really wide net,” McLeod-Skinner said. “The devil is in the details. If it’s too restrictive people don’t apply, or if it’s too expensive an application process.
There are two criteria for applicants. The business or non-profit organization must be based in Talent, and the organization’s financial position must have been affected by COVID since March 2020. This may include events such as closures, capacity limits, changes in operations or lost sales. Financial losses are self-verified by claimants, Legarza said.
Healthy Sustainable Communities was hired by the city to help manage the grant programs. The firm has set up a website, TalentGRANTS.com, which contains the application form. Legarza is also the executive director of the Talent Urban Renewal Agency, which is an independent entity separate from the city.
Company staff will begin reviewing applications the week of June 14 to verify applicants meet the criteria. They expect to send a list of qualified candidates to the city in a few days. A municipal jury will examine the applications and award the prizes. Legarza said the checks are expected to start coming out the week of June 21.
“We will go through all the metrics and then submit the information to the city. Then the city makes the final decision. It’s basically their decision, ”said Legarza.
The previous administration – before McLeod-Skinner’s appointment in January – had left the money unspent, Legarza said. There is no limit on the size of the rewards.
McLeod-Skinner had done an informal study of business needs, mostly while walking downtown, before the grant program was announced. She spoke to business owners and managers.
In his investigation, McLeod-Skinner found that the restaurants had suffered substantial losses. In addition to the closures, restrictions on the number of seats inside had a major impact. But the use of outdoor space has also forced restaurants to make financial investments to accommodate diners.
“I was surprised at how expensive some of these materials are,” said McLeod-Skinner, who mentioned building dividers among the costs that drove up the price of business. The costs of PPE have also affected businesses, she said. Talent Travaux Publics had a stock of PPE, supplied by the State, which it delivered to companies.
“Everyone knows that small businesses have a very low profit margin,” McLeod-Skinner said. Some businesses in the city were able to obtain emergency funding from various agencies, some administered by Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc.
More normal activities are returning to town, McLeod-Skinner said, noting the resumption of the Friday night Talent Artisans & Growers market, which began on May 25. The market will be held on the last Friday of each month across from City Hall on Main Street.
The Artisans & Growers Group, a nonprofit, has applied for a grant, Legarza reported. The non-profit Historical Talent Society also submitted an application.
Small towns such as Talent will likely receive US bailout funds designed to help cope with the impacts of COVID in the fall, Legarza said. He said his staff could work on distributing these funds according to the wishes of the city council.
The information and the application are available on TalentGRANTS.com.
Contact Ashland’s freelance writer Tony Boom at [email protected]