On Tuesday, Oct. 27, Guilford County announced the closure of it’s Guilford County CARES Small Business Assistance Grant Program that was funded by federal dollars from the coronavirus relief legislation known as the CARES Act – the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.”

Under the program that’s now finished, Guilford County awarded $20 million in federal money directly to area businesses.

The Guilford County CARES Small Business Assistance Grant program has for months been handing out grants of up to $10,000 to area small businesses and now – with the entire $20 million that the Guilford County Board of Commissioners allocated in May depleted – the program is coming to an end.

The county’s small-business assistance grant program was administered internally by county staff.

In the end, the program awarded grants to more than 2,800 local businesses.

About $4.3 million of the $20 million pool was given to barber, hair and beauty businesses. Another $2.7 million was given to professional services, and over $2.4 million was awarded to businesses in the food, lodging and hospitality sector. Almost $1.7 million went to shipping, logistics and “for-hire auto businesses.” The smallest category awarded was manufacturing. Businesses in that category got just over $209,000.

Earlier this month, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips told the Rhino Times that there would be no more small business grant money from the county unless there was a new round of funding from Washington. As most everyone is now aware, Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill haven’t been able to reach an agreement on a new relief package despite a great deal of talking.

Guilford County got over $93 million of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, passed by the US Congress in March. In a way, Guilford County lucked out greatly because it’s the third largest county in the state. Guilford County was one of only three counties in North Carolina to receive direct funds from the federal government. There was a big falloff in the level of funding if a county was fourth or lower on the list.

The relief money has to be used by the end of the year “for direct expenses incurred due to COVID-19 and for reimbursement of unintended consequences of COVID-19 prevention efforts.”