Entities working to secure funding for small businesses

There is a need for money to help support local small businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and the city of Seymour are working together to access funds through the state Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ new COVID-19 Response Program.

Jim Plump, executive director of JCIDC, said with the city’s permission, he planned to investigate the new small business grant opportunity through OCRA to see if the city qualifies for up to $250,000.

The Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety gave that permission during a meeting Thursday.

“We were made aware of this opportunity and are in the process of applying for funds to assist small business,” Plump said.

But he doesn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up because it’s not a done deal.

“We don’t want to create or build up any false hopes,” he said. “We just want to start the process and see where it goes.”

The funding is coming from the state’s annual Community Development Block Grant allocation and must be used to address the immediate impact of COVID-19 on rural communities.

“A lot of their more traditional programs have been suspended for the year, and so they’re looking at ways they can use some of the money they get into the communities,” Plump said. “I talked to the mayor and our executive committee. It was decided we would at least investigate and see if we might be able to tap into some of this money.”

Needs within the next three months eligible for funding include operating expenses and payroll for small business retention for up to 500 employees, converting or building facilities to provide medical assistance and COVID-19 testing, food and shelter assistance and transportation services.

A long-term recovery phase with additional funding is coming in the near future.

Plump said the applicant must be the city of Seymour.

“If we get beyond first base, we’ll put a program together and try to get some of this money out to some small businesses,” Plump said.

JCIDC already has been operating a small business/industry loan program since 2003.

“We have the structure in place,” Plump said. “We started a program 17 years ago with funds we got from the USDA, and so we have operated a program like this, but this obviously will be a little different if we’re able to secure funds.”