Forthcoming small business grant program

LIHU‘E — The county has allocated $5 million in grants for small businesses that will be distributed by local credit unions next month.

The Small Business Boost Program will offer up to $7,500 per grant to businesses, which will not have to be paid back, said Office of Economic Development Director Nalani Brun. The program should begin in early August.

The $5 million comes from the county’s $28 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds sub awarded by the state. It is the largest single line-item pulled from these funds.

Credit unions will evaluate applications and distribute the funds on a first-come, first-served basis. The county is following similar models used in O‘ahu and Maui.

The $5 million will service about 600 businesses, and credit unions will take small cuts between 2.5% to 5%.

The county has partnered with Kaua‘i Government Employees’ Federal Credit Union, Gather Federal Credit Union, Kaua‘i Teachers Federal Credit Union and Hawai‘i USA Federal Credit Union.

There are approximately 1,700 registered businesses on Kaua‘i.

The county originally hoped to launch the project in July, but is still working on contracts.

Participants will not be able to use this grant for duplicate funds. So if a business received Paycheck Protection Program funds, this grant will not be able to be used for the same line items.

“Eligibility will be to preserve small, local established businesses that have a reasonable chance of continuing with this financial help,” Brun said.

Brun said more information, including documents and eligibility requirements, will be posted prior to the application launch via kauaiforward.com, advertising on social media and business associations.

“We will make sure everybody knows what’s happening,” she said.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

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