MEDFORD, Ore. — The City of Medford freed up $125,000 for local small businesses suffering from the impacts of COVID-19, but a wave of applications claimed all of that money and more within the space of a few hours.
The City Council approved that grant money last week, pulling from marijuana tax revenue.
“Our local businesses have been forced to drastically alter their operations in response to this pandemic,” Mayor Gary Wheeler said. “While the true impact of the coronavirus is largely unknown, it’s imperative that we support our small businesses which employ our friends, family and neighbors.”
"The objective of this program is to offer immediate financial assistance to small businesses in the City of Medford to aid in maintaining their business and workforce. Awards will be made on a first-come, first-served basis," the City said.
As of Monday, at 10 a.m. the city's Small Business Assistance Grant Program opened for businesses to submit applications. By 3:45 p.m., city officials said that they had received 121 applications requesting $280,250 in funds. The site is no longer accepting applications.
The grants were earmarked for rent, mortgage, or utility payments. Businesses owners had to complete an online application and submit a copy of their W9, have no more than 15 "non-owners" as of March 1, and have a City business license.
Businesses were not eligible if they had outstanding City-related liens, fees, or code enforcement cases; if they have received funds from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), or if they were a franchise.
Those who qualify will receive at least $1,500. Every non-owner employee grants an additional $500, for a maximum of $5,000.
"As we continue to respond to this rapidly evolving situation, the City recognizes the importance of quickly addressing a number of urgent needs and will continue to work closely with our local businesses and service organizations to reduce regulatory barriers and provide access to resources needed during this unprecedented time," officials said.
City Councilmember Tim D'Alessandro told NewsWatch 12 that he had originally requested $250,000 in marijuana revenue for the program, but that the Council had compromised on half that amount for the time being.
"We realize that $125,000 is not a lot . . . but every little bit is going to help with these folks that are struggling through this and hopefully get open," D'Alessandro said. "Some of them get open this weekend, and can start making some money to help bridge them through."
D'Alessandro said that the Council plans to meet on Thursday to look at more funding for the grant program.