City News

Grant Funds Available for Small Business & Housing Assistance

Grant Funds Available for

Small Business & Housing Assistance

GADSDEN, October 1, 2021 The Etowah County Commission has been notified that COVID-19 relief funds are being made available for certain businesses and individuals in Etowah County.

“The County Commission is pleased to be working with partner organizations to administer much-needed relief to small businesses and individuals suffering hardships as a result of the pandemic,” said Commission President Jamie Grant.

United Way of Etowah County and The Chamber of Etowah County, Inc., have committed to partnering with the County Commission to administer the funds to provide housing and utility assistance, along with relief to small businesses. 

“We were notified earlier this year by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) that $500,000 in grant funding had been allocated to us for certain relief in the community as part of the CARES Act,” said Shane Ellison, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). “It was quite a pleasant surprise that counties were selected to apply for Community Development Block Grant funds.”

Originally, the funding was restricted to unincorporated Etowah County and municipalities other than the City of Gadsden.  “We enlisted the help of a consultant for these funds, and he was able to get approval from ADECA to cover Gadsden residents and businesses as well.”  

The County Commission established a maximum allocation of34% of total funds to be administered specifically in the City of Gadsden, which was based on population, with the majority of the funds to be administered in all other municipalities and unincorporated county.

The Chamber established a task team in preparation of administering the grant fund, and after communicating with the county’s consultant, decided to provide small business grants that would fund projects that will enhance or improve the ability to conduct business during a pandemic. The small business grant program fund will not exceed $225,000, and each business may request up to $2,500 for a project.

“Projects that can be considered include things like creating an outdoor seating and serving area, a walk-up or drive-up window, or perhaps a new e-commerce website,” noted Heather Brothers New, president &CEO of The Chamber. “Projects that have already been completed may also be eligible, however we will require certification that those projects have not been previously covered by any other business assistance program and occurred after January 1, 2021.”

New added that proof of project expenses, such as a quote or invoice from a business licensed in the state and authorized to do business within Etowah County, will be required. Businesses will also be required to submit a federal employer identification number or social security number if a sole proprietor and will be required to prove they are a business licensed in Etowah County and their respective municipality as appropriate, and in some situations may be required to submit tax returns to validate business financial activities.
Projects that are proposed to be completed will also be required to submit proof of completion and full payment. New noted that the committee overseeing the program at The Chamber will review all applications received by the 15th of each month, with the intention of notifying approvals by the 20th and funding to occur by the 25th of the following month.
“We certainly anticipate some hiccups as this is the first time we’ve ever administered a grant like this,” New said. “We’re relying on input and advice from sister organizations through the state and nation for advice and best practices to ensure that we are in full compliance of the grant opportunities, and we assist in making the most impact possible for our small businesses and their future.”

The application for small business grant assistance can be found at Businesses needing assistance with completing their application can call 256-543-3472 to make an appointment.

Ruth Moffatt, executive director of United Way, said that the allocation they will administer will be designated for rental and utility assistance for qualified residents.
“Combatting homelessness has taken center stage as one of our organization’s strategic drivers,” she said. “This grant will help keep those still recovering from economic loss as a result of this pandemic, and that is a win for the entire community.”

She added that often the caseworkers in the 211 First Call for Help program can help individuals recover from significant setbacks and return to a path of self-sufficiency by identifying resources that provide a hand-up, not a hand-out.

“Providing an individual with the ability to maintain even one more month in their home can result in that individual being able to return to health, return to work, and return to their ability to manage their own budgets successfully again,” Moffatt shared.

Individuals seeking utility and mortgage assistance should contact 211 First Call for help by dialing 211 or toll free at 888-421-1266from any land or mobile line and entering their local zip code.

“This is new ground for the county commission,” said Ellison. “We felt like if there are funds available to help small businesses and individuals trying to recover from this pandemic, we couldn’t pass up on it.”

Ellison emphasized that the commission desires for the region and state to know that Etowah County is open for business. He said that there were many certificates for formation and business licenses issued during the pandemic, and that the county and its municipalities welcome and embrace those new businesses that have chosen Etowah County for their home.

“We are grateful to be in lockstep with the County Commission and Etowah County in these recovery efforts,” said New.“ Partnerships like these have a tremendous impact, not only on the present, but the future as well.”

“If there’s one thing we know for certain at United Way, it is that it takes a village, and we are proud to be part of a strong and united village,” said Moffatt.

To see if your business qualifies for a small business grant, apply here:

If you need assistance completing the form to apply for a small business grant, The Chamber will begin taking appointments to assist with applications on Wednesday, October 27. Please call 256-543-3472 starting Wednesday. Those that do not require assistance may begin completing their applications now.

To seek housing assistance, call 211 First Call for Help by dialing 211 from any mobile or land line.