The Stafford County Economic Development Authority (EDA) is proud to have released grant applications for the CARES ACT COVID-19 Business Recovery Grant Funds.
This new “Round Three” of grants is funded by $13M in CARES ACT funds allocated to Stafford County. CARES act funds were specifically designated by the Commonwealth to protect the Stafford County people from public health and provide for relief from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The Stafford County Board of Supervisors authorized and allocated $1.8M of those funds to the EDA to fund the third round of business recovery grants. Grants will be awarded to those who meet eligibility requirements, are in good standing with county records, submit all application documentation requested, and are considered in the order that they are received. Applications are reviewed for eligibility and completeness by Economic Development and Tourism (ED&T) staff and then again reviewed and approved by the Stafford County EDA Loan Review Committee, comprised of members of the EDA board of directors and a private banker. No other person/persons are involved in the review process and no external or third parties’ inputs are considered. Applicants will receive notice of award or declination pending the outcome of the review committee’s decision.
This third round of business assistance grants, let me reiterate that this “Round Three” of grants are funded by CARES ACT funds allocated to Stafford County, whereas rounds one and two were funded solely by the Stafford EDA.
During the previous two Rounds of grants, the Stafford EDA quickly went into action in mid-March after anticipating local business impact due to the health crisis and assembled a COVID-19 Grant program. The grant program used EDA funding, the County ED&T staff for program management, and the volunteer EDA members for a review committee. As a result of these efforts, Stafford was one of the first County’s in Virginia to establish a grant program and issue funds to businesses.
In “Round One”, 103 businesses applied with 47 receiving funds. The demand for support was exponential, and the EDA issued a “Round Two” of grants soon after, adjusting the grant eligibility and criteria based on what was learned in Round One. In “Round Two”, 96 businesses applied with 75 receiving funds. In total, over $450,000 of limited EDA funds were granted to 122 Stafford businesses. This resulted in saving over 1,000 jobs within the County. Businesses within all County Districts were eligible and received funds.
It is important to understand that those first rounds of grants were funded solely through the Stafford EDA with a singular intent – to support economic development in Stafford County. Rounds One and Two were focused on providing businesses the opportunity to sustain employment and payroll levels at or near pre-COVID levels. Information on round one and two grants were marketed through various media outlets, department social media, www.GoStaffordVA.com, and www.StaffordEDA.com websites, local radio, and various email information notifications through the ED&T department newsletter list. At no time did the EDA seek or solicit input from the County Board of Supervisors either in the methodology of the application process, the application review itself, nor the expenditure of the funds. The EDA acted in an independent manner, utilizing non-taxpayer dollars, and in keeping with the autonomy afforded under Virginia Law.
The current grants available through the CARES ACT COVID-19 Business Recovery Funds, (Round Three) are designed to broaden eligibility for critically impacted business sectors and includes grants for nonprofits. The funds for these grants were provided to the EDA by the Stafford County Board of Supervisors through the CARES Act allocation. These new grant programs, while available to a broader range of operations, still require documentation by the business showing their impact by the Coronavirus documenting eligible expenses, as per the CARES Act. The review process and selection of awardees is completely unbiased and objective.
Stafford County Administration, the Economic Development & Tourism (ED&T), and the EDA are working to assist and support our local business community. While we must follow a process, we have heard the needs of the business community and had the opportunity to fine-tune our process so that we can assist as many members of the business community as practical and as efficiently and effectively as possible. No process, especially during a national crisis, is perfect throughout. However, at no time has any member of the EDA, or the designated application committee sought out or solicited input into the process from elected officials. Further, at no time was any factor – race, religion, orientation, or political affiliation – a determining criteria for award.
Applications are now open for the Stay, Sleep, and Safe in Stafford business grants (Round 3). Grant applications opened on Monday, August 17th at 9:00 am and will close on August 26th at 4:00 pm. To apply and to find out more information on the CARES Act COVID-19 EDA Business Recovery Grant Programs, visit https://www.gostaffordva.com/coronavirus/.
Finally, EDA is investing and supporting efforts to expand broadband to unserved areas of Stafford County. Pre-COVID, the EDA supported the County’s VATI grant covering portions of Widewater and Aquia regions. As the pandemic has changed the way we teach, learn and work, the EDA and the County are using a portion of CARES Act funds to further expand broadband to other areas across Stafford. This is on top of an additional allocation of $1.1M from the County CARES Act funds to the schools in support of distance learning. The EDA will continue to seek out ways to secure funds and invest its limited resources in order to offer broadband across Stafford County in support of distance learning and teleworking for all.
To stay connected and informed, sign up here for the Stafford Economic Development and Tourism email newsletter and follow on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You are also encouraged to participate in the process by attending any of the public meetings that the EDA conducts.
Joel Griffin, Chairman of the EDA