Governor announces first round of grants from $1.25 billion in federal aid
Last updated 5/5/2020 at 4:08pm
Editor's note: This version corrects the website where people can view the grant programs.
Gov. Steve Bullock announced today the first round of grants from the $1.25 billion the federal government provided to Montana through the CARES Act to help the state deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I want to be clear, this is Just an initial round of funding based on the immediate needs identified by Montanans and small businesses," Bullock said. "There will certainly be additional funding announced in the future, and we’ll closely monitor the demand for this first round of emergency grants to adjust as needed to ensure that Montanans are getting relief."
Bullock said the initial phase includes nine grant programs, and additional funding or different programs will be set as the program proceeds and the state watches demand and usage.
Bullock said people can start applying for the first round of $123 million of CARES Act funds in the nine programs at 8 a.m. Thursday.
He thanked Montana residents for using care and precautions to flatten the curve of new cases of COVID-19, but warned that the phased re-opening is not going back to business as usual - people need to continue to use care, washing their hands, avoiding large groups, staying home if they don't need to go out, and so on.
Bullock said one program in the grants announced will focus on small businesses with fewer than 50 employees that have been impacted by the pandemic and government restrictions imposed to reduce exposure to the virus. Businesses can apply for up to $10,000 in working capital in the first round of grants.
Another program will provide up to $25,000 to for-profit and non-profit companies with fewer than 150 employees working to develop products in response to the pandemic, such as helping them scale up, improve capabilities and increase distribution of products developed in response to the pandemic.
A third program will provide grants up to $10,000 to food and agricultural businesses to help them increase community resilience such as through expanding local food systems, creating or finding new markets and helping businesses adapt to decrease food and agricultural waste.
An emergency housing grant program also will be started to help people having problems paying rent, making security deposits or mortgage payments due to the impacts of the pandemic, Bullock said. Depending on the situation the program could pay up to $2,000 a month in assistance.
Another program is set to fund helping local and tribal health departments and urban tribal health centers respond to COVID-19 in their communiites, he said.
And, Bullock said, because the state is still asking older Montanans to stay home as much as possible and still is restricting visitation to nursing homes, a program will provide funds to help provide technology so older residents can stay connected to their friends and families.
Another part of the grant program will provide funds to help people with disabilities access technology to allow telework.
To help ensure Montanans have access to nutritional food another program will provide grants to food banks and pantries to " increase food security for Montanans hit hard by COVID-19," Bullock said, and another program will provide grants for nonprofit organizations to continue to provide services.
"These nine programs announced today will join the state's suite of existing support services and direct federal appropriations to ensure that we can begin both the short- and long-term path toward economic recovery," Bullock said.
Details on the grants are available online at http://covidrelief.mt.gov.
That site also lists other assistance available.
Bullock urged people, businesses and organizations that think they may be eligible for grants to have needed documentation ready when they visit covidrelief.mt.gov when it goes live Thursday at 8 a.m.
Public comment on the use of the funds and Coronavirus Relief Fund Advisory Council report are also on the state COVID-19 site at http://www.covid19.mt.gov .
Watch for more in Wednesday's edition of the Havre Daily News.