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LIBERTY — The Liberty City Council approved up to $250,000 for a Small Business Grant Program for eligible small businesses within Liberty city limits. Liberty joins Smithville and Kearney in giving out grants to city businesses.

The program is made possible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which Congress passed and the president signed on March 27.

On May 1, the Clay County Commission approved Resolution 2020-139, distributing federal CARES Act funding to Liberty for eligible expenses incurred to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant program will be administered by the Clay County Economic Development Council. Small businesses within Liberty can apply for grants up to $10,000 to reimburse businesses expenses related to the pandemic.

The program is designed to assist small businesses with expenses incurred between March 1 and Sept. 30. Expenses can include payroll, rent, mortgage interest, utilities, inventory replacement and COVID-19 supplies. Grant funds cannot be used to replace lost revenues.

Grants will be awarded first to businesses: with 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, not including part-time employees; $2.5 million or less in annual revenue; or that have not received other federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Eligible businesses are those impacted by the stay-at-home order issued earlier this year such as retail, food service, arts and entertainment, fitness and personal services.

Shawnna Funderburk, assistant to the city administrator, told the council that the guidelines restrict certain businesses such as lending firms, consumer marketing and businesses that exceed 50% gross sales of alcohol, tobacco, CBD, vapor or vapor-related products.

“We don’t want to discourage businesses from applying,” she said.

Councilman Rae Moore said she wants to make sure smaller businesses get a chance at the grants. Her example included hairstylists.

“Some of our businesses are better connected,” said Councilman Harold Phillips. “We need to include those truly little businesses, too. We need to be sensitive to them.”

The CCEDC will accept applications through Oct. 30.

For more information about all eligibility requirements and application details, visit www.libertymissouri.gov/CARES_SBG.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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