Columbia County Chairman’s Message – COUNTY DEDICATES $500K IN ARPA FUNDS TO ASSISTING SMALL BUSINESSES
June 21, 2022
Chairman’s press release
COUNTY DEDICATES $500K IN ARPA FUNDS TO ASSISTING SMALL BUSINESSES
The Columbia County Board of Supervisors has announced the launch of Columbia Forward, a new $500,000 initiative designed to assist small business and strengthen local economic development activities.
The Columbia Economic Development Corporation and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce will partner to implement and manage a three-year, $450,000 program under Columbia Forward intended to assist county- based small business and local economic development committees, county BOS Chairman Matt Murell said today.
In addition, Columbia County will contribute provide CEDC with an additional $50,000 in ARPA funds to support a new small business grant program to which CEDC has committed $500,000 in new loan funds. Loans up to $25,000 will be made available to credit eligible borrowers, who will each receive 10 percent of what has been borrowed in grant funding.
The capital for both initiatives actions is being supplied by American Rescue Plan Act funds — to date, Columbia County has received half of the approximately $11 million it has been allocated under the ARPA legislation.
Under the agreement, $150,000 will be provided each year for three years, subject to an annual performance review. The $500,000 allocated from ARPA funds for Columbia Forward is a natural progression from Columbia Comeback, established in May 2020 by Chairman Murell as a means to helping businesses safely and successfully reopen in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would call this a win-win,” said Chairman Murell. “Small businesses that have suffered throughout the pandemic will have this opportunity to help with their recovery efforts.”
According to the United State Census Bureau, there are approximately 1,750 businesses in Columbia County, with more than 78% having 10 or fewer employees. The program will target these small businesses disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including businesses in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries, which are an important part of the Columbia County economy. The program will also focus on main street retail, small manufacturing and service businesses.