The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed in late March 2020 as the largest rescue package in U.S. history. The new law offered direct payments to Americans, special financing for business, grants, emergency loans, unsecured lines of credit and relief for businesses and nonprofits. Five billion dollars in Community Development Block Grants was directed to states for distribution for communities’ losses.
Nelson County CARES ACT COVID-19 funding totaled $2,605,170 as of August 10. During the Board of Supervisors August meeting the CARES funding was distributed into categories including Government Compliance with Health Measures $112,612; School Division-Distance Learning Technology $500,000; EMS Public Safety-Compliance Public Health Measures $401,200; and Community Relief Initiatives, $1,476,452. A contingency of $114,906 remained unallocated.
Small Business Grants
A press release in September described the economic support offered to the 1100 small businesses in Nelson County known as the NELSON CARES 2020 Grant Program. The small business assistance program is a direct grant to small local businesses that have experienced business interruption due to required closures as a result of the public health emergency of COVID-19. Grants will range from $1,000 to $30,000 based upon the number of full-time employees of a business.
Nelson County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tommy Harvey stated, “The CARES Act funding to local governments such as Nelson allows us to help our in-county business partners sustain their operations during this very trying time. Prioritizing craft beverage, hospitality, retail and agriculture businesses for assistance will provide the greatest immediate impact to our local economy.”
Nelson County for-profit businesses with 1 to 100 full-time employees and in operation prior to March 12, 2019 are eligible to apply. Businesses apply online in a two-part process. Documented business revenue loss and financial hardship will be required. Applications and information may be obtained at tjpdc.org/nelson-cares-2020. The application period will be open until all program funds are exhausted. As of September 25, 30 letters of interest had been received and 11 completed applications were under review.
The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will administer the program and distribute the funds. Nelson County will review all submissions and determine eligibility beginning in mid- September. Questions on the grants or the application should be directed to Christine Jacobs, Program Manager, at [email protected] or 434-979-7310.
The largest allocation of CARES funds is to support the Firefly Broadband Service Expansion to underserved areas of the county. County Administrator Stephen Carter said at the August Board meeting, “The (County) Broadband Authority met earlier and received an overview from Mr. Gary Wood, Central Valley Electric Cooperative (CVEC), on the potential for Firefly to utilize about $1.125 million to extend broadband to several areas in the county by December 31.”
Harvey encouraged making the commitment to CVEC/Firefly because “broadband will touch more lives and do more for everything in Nelson County.” Harvey later added it was a “goal that everyone in the county would pay (only) for the service but not for the installation.”