Friday, March 5, 2021

Council to consider COVID-19 small business grants

As businesses face “intense and severe financial hardship” due to COVID-19, Municipality of Chatham-Kent staff is recommending to provide some relief to small businesses in the community.

A $250,000 COVID-19 Chatham-Kent Small Business Recovery Grant Program will be up for discussion at the Monday, June 15, 2020 Council meeting.

Staff is recommending the program be developed by community development and financial Services staff.

A report by Gord Quinton, chief financial officer and treasurer for Chatham-Kent, says the program would begin achieving one of the goals proposed by the Chatham-Kent Economic Recovery Task Force, by redirecting funds and reducing service levels.

The funds would be allocated from the following approved programs: $200,000 from the Together CK: CK Plan 2035 Community Projects budget and $50,000 from the Together CK: Events budget.

Staff is also recommending to have administration report back to Council with the list of grant recipients at the end of the program.

Administration is also asking Council to direct staff on service level reductions for consideration during the 2021 budget process, to achieve up to $2-million in savings from the base budget.

“Administration recognizes the intense and severe financial hardship that has crippled Canadian businesses due to the need for Public Health restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Quinton said in his report.

“The Federal and Provincial governments have released multiple programs to assist businesses with grant and loan programs. The money from upper levels is now flowing into programs and is beginning to reach local Chatham-Kent businesses.”

Quinton added: “Significant help is not available from municipal governments as we have no mechanism to pay for such grants other than by lowering current service levels or taxing all property owners to pay for the business grants.”

Quinton said economic development has been making and fielding hundreds of calls to business owners across Chatham-Kent and are responding to urgent requests for help.

“Staff have set up a special section on our website with COVID-19 Business
Resources to provide timely and accurate information,” Quinton said in his report.

“It’s a significant tool that is helping businesses find resources they need to react to the quickly evolving landscape and receive guidance when reopening to customers. One area that Chatham-Kent may assist small business owners is in their immediate needs to prepare their small business, store or restaurant to be able to protect employees and staff as they reopen to customers. Community development and financial services staff will work together to administer a program to assist small business as they reopen.”

After a presentation by the Economic Recovery Task Force at their last meeting, Council approved the following recommendations:

– Council receive the report from the Task Force and staff for information.

– Council endorse and support the creation of an independent CK Business Advisory Group as requested by the Economic Recovery Task Force.

– All committees and boards of Council discuss ways to work in collaboration with the new Business Advisory Group.

– Staff organize, plan and schedule a strategic planning session with Council and the Task Force/Business Advisory Group. This session will take place before the end of June of this year. The results will be reported back to Council.

– Administration will provide a report on the options listed in recommendations #3, #4 and #5 of the Task Force Report.

– Staff report back to council with recommendations and options for program criteria and funding sources, including options for potential 2020 service reductions, for up to $2-million dollars, as requested for immediate relief strategies outlined by the Task Force. The new Business Advisory Group will be consulted in the making of this report.

Read the full story, here.

Monday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. and can be seen LIVE, here.

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