Homer City Hall. (Homer News file photo)

Homer City Hall. (Homer News file photo)

Relief grants for small Homer businesses now available

Using a portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding it has received, the City of Homer is extending a hand to local small businesses as they navigate the financial hardships caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Homer’s portion of CARES Act funding handed down from the state was about $7.9 million. Of that, the city is allocating $3 million to what it’s calling the Small Business Economic Relief Grant Program, or SBERG. The Homer City Council passed a resolution at its June 8 meeting establishing the grant program, and hashed out more details of how the city will spread funds throughout different sectors of Homer at a special meeting before its June 22 meeting.

Grants distributed by the program will be up to $3,000. The funds can be used by small businesses to cover loan payments, to pay workers and benefits, to cover operating costs to purchase personal protective equipment and more.

To be eligible, a business must be physically located within Homer city limits. Businesses located on the southern Kenai Peninsula outside of city limits can seek financial aid at the Kenai Peninsula Borough level. The borough aims to have a process for businesses to access those funds by mid July.

Also to be eligible for the Homer grants, a business must meet the definition of a small business according to the State of Alaska AK CARES Grant Program. That means, on average, that a business has 50 or fewer full-time employees. Any business wishing to apply for Homer’s grant program must have filed a tax report with the borough in the third or fourth quarter of 2019, or the first quarter of 2020, indicating their taxable sales. Businesses must be current on their payments and returns with the borough tax department to be eligible, and must submit a “brief explanation as to how the business suffered a loss of revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the program criteria from the city.

Marijuana businesses and those who have filed for bankruptcy are not eligible for the program. Federal law does not allow funds supplies by the U.S. Treasury to be used to support marijuana businesses, which are still not legal at the federal level.

A business can only apply for the program once.

The deadline for grant application submissions is 5 p.m. on Sept. 25 of this year. Applicants must also submit a W-9 form. Applicants will be notified via email if their application has been approved, and the $3,000 grants will be distributed on a rolling bases, according to the program criteria.

There are also a certain number of things Homer business owners are not allowed to spend the grant money on. They include employee bonuses, political and charitable contributions, gifts or parties, or to pay down debt by more than is required.

The city has contracted Jody Mastey to run the Small Business Economic Relief Grant Program. For more information, contact her at 907-299-5978 or jmastey@ci.homer.ak.us.

Applications for the program can be found on the city’s website at cityofhomer-ak-sberg.online. Those interested can either fill out and submit the application online, or print one out from the city website and return it to the Homer Finance Department’s dropbox in Homer City Hall. Completed applications can also be mailed to:

City of Homer

ATTN: SBERG – Jody Mastey

491 East Pioneer Avenue

Homer, AK 99603

To read frequently asked questions and to access application documents, visit cityofhomer-ak.gov/covid-relief/small-business-economic-relief-grant-sberg.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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