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GRADD receives $3.6 million to help small businesses rebound from COVID-19

August 29, 2020 | 12:09 am

Updated August 28, 2020 | 9:58 pm

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Another significant chunk of money has been invested in the local economy through the CARES Act.

Announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce, $11.6 million in Revolving Loan Funds (RLFs) was awarded to help small businesses across Kentucky, and $3.6 million will go toward the Green River Area Development District (GRADD). 

Recovery Assistance grants will be used to capitalize and administer RLFs that will provide critical gap financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic across the Commonwealth. 

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“Our business owners have diligently followed guidelines and prioritized protecting their fellow Kentuckians,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “We can’t thank them enough for their help combatting COVID-19 and it is imperative we help them thoughtfully rebuild and stay economically resilient.” 

GRADD’s $3.6 million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant will be used to capitalize and administer loans to coronavirus-impacted businesses in Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McClean, Ohio, Union and Webster counties. 

GRADD Director Joanna Shake said her agency was thrilled to have received the funding to help small businesses recover from COVID-19-related setbacks. GRADD has administered loans to help small businesses since 1979, but this assistance will differ largely from years past. 

“It’s different because it’s targeted right toward COVID-impacted businesses,” Shake said. 

Businesses across the seven-county region should be able to apply for loans by mid-September after the Owensboro-Daviess County Economic Development Corporation approves GRADD’s plan for the money. Shake said the program is scheduled for a Sept. 9 launch. 

GRADD is also working on a marketing plan for the funding. Shake said she’d like to focus on minority outreach, as many of those businesses may have been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have two years to get this money out to small businesses,” she said. “We plan to go out to these counties and work closely with our banks [in spreading the word].” 

Many of the small businesses affected by COVID-19 didn’t have strong relationships with banks and weren’t able to benefit from the Payment Protection Program (PPP) assistance that dispersed forgivable loans to hundreds of small businesses across Daviess County.

How the $3.6 million is divided across the seven counties will largely depend on the number of businesses in each of those areas, Shake said. 

“It’s hard to predict the amount that will go toward Daviess County, but I expect the majority of applications will come from Daviess County and Henderson,” she said. 

Shake said the program will be a huge undertaking for GRADD but hugely beneficial for small businesses. With an expected zero percent interest rate for the first 12 months and the application fee likely to be waived, Shake said the funding will be more flexible than usual.  

“Our mission is to improve the quality of life in our seven counties,” Shake said. “We’re excited to create jobs and help the economy rebound.” 

August 29, 2020 | 12:09 am

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