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City applies for COVID-relief for businesses, individuals

The City of Washington is reaching out to local businesses and individuals who have been hurt financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnering with the Mid-East Commission, the City is beginning a grant application process to secure Community Development Block Grant — Coronavirus funding

According to Washington City Manager Jonathan Russell, these funds could assist both small businesses and families who have fallen behind on rent and utility payments in recent months.

“This is a new federal grant program that we’re applying for,” Russell explained. “It’s pretty broad in what it can be used for, like making emergency utility payments to prevent service disconnections of electric, water, gas, sewer, internet and telephone services. It can also provide emergency rent for commercial and residential spaces. We’re still putting our goal list together for that, and it’s a pretty broad allowance.”

Earlier this month, Martin County received a similar grant totaling $900,000, which will be used to provide substantial utility and rent assistance relief to county residents. According to a press release from Martin County regarding that award, low-income households will receive first priority as those funds are parsed out.

“We’re trying to get as large an application as possible,” Russell said. “We’re working on gathering interest from citizens to craft the application and move forward.”

For businesses, potential uses of the funding include the following:

  • Grants to support new businesses or business expansion to create jobs and manufacture medical supplies necessary to respond to infectious disease;
  • Preventing job losses caused by business closures related to social distancing by providing short-term working capital assistance to small businesses to enable retention of jobs held by low-to-moderate income persons;
  • Provide financial assistance to for-profit businesses to acquire property, build, expand or rehabilitate a building, lease space to operate, purchase equipment or provide operating capital;
  • Retrofit workspaces for for-profit businesses to promote social distancing.

Those interested seeking funds through the grant can contact Jessica Greene with the City of Washington at jgreen@washingtonnc.gov or 252-975-9333 or Kevin Richards with the Mideast Commission at 252-974-1823 or krichards@mideastcom.org.