More than 60 Aurora businesses have signed up for the new COVID Emergency Relief Fund in the first few days applications have been accepted. Th
More than 60 Aurora businesses have signed up for the new COVID Emergency Relief Fund in the first few days applications have been accepted.
The $1.2 million emergency fund, known as CERF, was designed to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is being paid for and administered by the city of Aurora.
CERF is a grant program available to small businesses in Aurora impacted by the pandemic. Qualified small businesses can apply for a one-time grant between $2,000 and $15,000 to help revive business continuity, retain employees and re-engage customers, according to city officials.
The fund was created along with two other programs last week by the City Council, and Monday was the first day for businesses to apply. City officials said more than 60 businesses had applied as of about noon Thursday. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 3.
Funds from the CERF program are in addition to the nearly $1 million the city has granted to local businesses through the city’s STABLE Fund approved last year.
The STABLE fund was funded largely through Community Development Block Grant funds. Because those are federal funds, some businesses were not eligible or could not meet stringent reporting requirements to get the money.
City officials had originally planned to give out as much as $1.4 million, but could only qualify about $1 million in grants.
The CERF program is funded entirely by city money, so the requirements are not as tough, officials have said.
In addition to CERF, the City Council has approved two more programs designed to assist businesses hurt by the pandemic.
The Food and Beverage Sales Tax Rebate program will allow restaurants and bars to forego paying city sales taxes for 90 days from March through May.
By statute, businesses must still collect taxes from patrons but will not have to remit them to the city and instead use them as a revenue source for business stabilization.
The valuation of the rebate program is just over $1 million.
The Liquor License Fee Waiver Initiative will allow 124 businesses with on-site liquor consumption to forego the annual liquor license renewal fee for 2021-22. At a savings of up to $2,070 a company, the initiative’s total valuation is approximately $250,000.
While the CERF grant program requires businesses to complete an application, the city will automatically apply the latter two relief plans to qualifying businesses. Also, the funds are not mutually exclusive, so any business could be eligible for all or any mix of the three.
The city is set to propose a fourth financial support program, this one for residents, within the next month.
The council soon will consider the Residential Rental Relief program to provide rental assistance in the form of grants paid directly to landlords.
City officials have earmarked $500,000 for the proposal.