Nine new grant programs

123 million available to individuals, small businesses, nonprofits, health services and more

Gov. Steve Bullock announced nine new financial relief programs funded by the CARES Act to provide assistance to individuals and businesses. Applications are available Thursday May 7 at 8 a.m.

Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Montana was appropriated 1.25 billion in aid, the minimum amount allocated per state through the program. 

After this determination was made, Gov. Bullock put together the Coronavirus Relief Fund Advisory Council made up of representatives from small business, agriculture, nonprofit, economic development and financial institutions to provide funding distribution guidance.

“I asked the advisory group to examine all sectors of the economy, consider the needs of each region of the state and do their due diligence to make sure no sector is left out,” Gov. Bullock said.

The findings from the advisory group and 1,400 public comments were used to inform where federal money was needed most.

“I’m pleased today to announce the first round of emergency grants to support families, small businesses, nonprofits, health services centers and individuals across Montana most impacted by COVID-19,” Gov. Bullock said.

Montana Business Stabilization Grant Program: for Montana-owned small businesses with less than 50 employees. Maximum award per business, $10,000. $50 million available.

Montana Innovation Grant Program: for companies that responded to COVID-19 by scaling up, improving capabilities or driving increased distribution of products or services. Nonprofit or for-profit businesses that created a product in response to COVID-19 with less than 150 employees may apply for up to $25,000. $5 million available.

Montana Food and Agriculture Adaptability Program: for food and agriculture businesses to increase resilience against the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible projects include those focused on accessing new markets, strengthening and expanding local food systems or decreasing food and agriculture waste. This is meant to help adapt to a COVID-19 world and not as a lifeline. Maximum grant award, $10,000, $500,000 available.

Emergency Housing Assistance Program: for Montanans who have lost a job or substantial income. Rent, security deposit, mortgage payment and/or hazard insurance assistance will be provided. Initial payments may include three months of assistance for those who had difficulty making payments in March or April or continued inability in June. Montana Housing will pay the difference between 30% of the household’s current gross monthly income and their eligible insurance costs, up to $2,000 per month. Household income limits range from $75,000-$125,000. Those already receiving aid will not be eligible. $50 million available.

Public Health Grants: available to local and tribal health departments and urban tribal clinics to meet the needs of their communities. $5 million available.

Stay Connected Grants: for agencies on aging, assisted living facilities, nursing homes or tribal elder services to reduce isolation among Montana’s seniors. Grants may be used to fund technology programs or efforts to encourage physically distanced forms of social interaction. $500-$2,000 per applicant, $400,000 available.

Food Bank and Food Pantry Assistance: for organizations providing food assistance, food banks, food pantries, community cupboards and entities with programs in place to begin new food distribution programs. $50,000 available per applicant, $2 million available.

Social Services Nonprofit Grants: for nonprofit groups impacted by COVID-19 to retain existing programs, employees, services or organization viability for future services and operations. $10,000 per applicant, $10 million available.

Telework Assistance Grants: for Montanans with disabilities needing equipment to adapt to the changing work environment. $1,000 per individual, $650,000 available.

There is no immediate timeline for the release of additional grants or programs. The demand will be assessed moving forward and used to determine if more money is needed. Additional federal guidance is anticipated and discussions at the federal level hint at another financial aid package. One goal is not to duplicate federal and state funding.

Priority for grant eligibility will be given to those who have not received any federal assistance. Businesses who have received aid will still be eligible.

“It’s really designed to be simple and something that they can access with speed,” Tara Rice, Director of the Department of Commerce, said.

Grant applications will open Thursday May 7 and can be found at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV. The Department of Commerce, Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture will review applications as they come, and funds are expected to reach those applying within 10 to 15 businesses days.

Businesses applying should prepare tax IDs, businesses registrations, a description of how the grant will be used and how operations were impacted by COVID-19 for submission.

Individuals, homeowners and renters, should prepare bank account information and verification of job or income loss for submission.

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