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Saturday , 16 October 2021

Small business grant aimed at Bonnyville area shops affected by pandemic

If your business has spent $1000 on costs of personal protective equipment, or other measures forced by the pandemic, you could get some of it back.

Bonnyville area businesses that have been affected by the pandemic could have an additional area of relief soon.

The Town of M.D. of Bonnyville has decided to partner up to offer $1000 grants for small and medium-sized businesses to recoup costs forced on them by business regulations and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding would come out of each municipality’s MOST (Municipal Operating Support Transfer) allocation from the province, with $30,000 from the town and M.D. each to complete the grant.

“It’s very much in its infancy stage,” said Mayor Gene Sobolewski said on The Morning After.

“We don’t really have a lot of detail in terms of exactly what the program is going to look like or its rollout. But we’ve passed the big hurdle with the town and the M.D. jointly contributing funds, so that we’ve got a program together with surplus funds that we had received from the stimulus,” he said.

It is anticipated that details on how to apply and eligibility will be ironed out this week, with the program available by the end of February.

The goal is to support businesses with fewer than 40 employees.

The idea spurred from the Regional Economic Development Committee, which council members from the town and M.D. sit on, and the economic development officer Mark Laver.

It is expected to be similar to a program the City of Cold Lake is offering where businesses that incurred costs to remain open or re-open during the pandemic could get a helping hand back.

Whether that was the purchase of personal protective equipment, or modifying their space to make it more safe and sanitary, storefront businesses can receive $500 from the program and home-based ones could get $100 under the Cold Lake program.

“A lot of these programs that are being offered, particularly to businesses, are loans and as I had mentioned to our MLA, some of the stimulus that’s going to be needed is going to be more of the unconditional grants because businesses aren’t really interested in accommodating more debt,” said Sobolewski.

During last Wednesday’s M.D. council meeting, council discussed the program, with the finalized criteria to come later.

The program funding is expected to be all spent by March 31, 2021, and applicants would have to show expenses.

“We will be reviewing each application as it comes in, that the expenses or losses, that there’s proof of those,” said Esther Quimabo, M.D. manager of legislative and information services.

While the grant amount is just “the tip of the iceberg,” said councillor Marc Jubinville, it is something that these businesses can use.

“It’s not much, but maybe others will kind of take the lead and see what we’re doing and try and see what can be done,” said Sobolewski.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.