City of Kent awards grants of $6,500 to 300-plus small businesses

$2.1 million from federal CARES Act funds to combat COVID-19 impact

Just more than 300 small businesses will receive grants of $6,500 from the city of Kent for economic relief during the COVID-19 outbreak.

About 211 businesses already received money as part of the Kent Small Business Emergency Relief Funding grants. With an additional $617,500 recently awarded from the federal CARES Act, the city of Kent will distribute nearly 100 more grants over the next couple of weeks.

In total, the city will spend $2.1 million on the grants, part of the $5.8 million Kent has been awarded from the state Department of Commerce through the federal CARES Act. The city also is spending about $1 million to purchase 500 laptops for city employees, including about 100 who are still working from home. The city has about another $2.7 million to spend on COVID-19 related expenses.

“Thank you for making sure our entire small business community will benefit from these funds,” City Council President Toni Troutner said to Bill Ellis, city economic development manager, after his report at a Sept. 8 council Committee of the Whole remote meeting.

A total of 539 small businesses applied for the grants and had to meet certain eligibility requirements. About 224 businesses were ineligible for a variety of reasons, including:

• 91 due to an owner, officer, partner, or principal actor of the business who is currently employed by city of Kent or who is an immediate family member (spouse, sibling) of a current city of Kent employee

• 67 due to they had not been in business for at least two years as of June 30, 2020

• 47 due to they had more than 15 full-time employees (eligibility was 15 employees or fewer)

• 46 due to they did not have a current city of Kent business license or were delinquent in payment of taxes or fees owned to the city of Kent as of Dec. 31, 2019

About five businesses were selected to receive grants but did not respond to numerous messages from the city after being notified they were eligible to receive funds, Ellis said. The city will award those monies to other eligible businesses.

Of the 217 businesses selected for the initial funding of $1.4 million, 72% are minority owned, 52% are woman owned and 3% are veteran owned, according to city documents. The businesses had an average revenue of $234,118 in 2019, have been in business an average of 11 years and have an average household income of $77,524.

Demographics of the applicants included 26% Asian-owned businesses, 24.5% white, 20% Black or African American and 8.2% Latinx or Hispanic. Other races were 2% or less and 13% left racial ethnicity blank on the form.

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