Guilford County government announced on Friday, July 31, that the county is ready to relaunch its small business assistance program, which is handing out COVID-19 relief money to area small businesses that are struggling due to the pandemic.

The county launched the initiative on June 1 but is now revamping and expanding it in order to make the money available to more county businesses.

Business owners can once again make online applications starting on Monday, August 3. So far, the county has handed out grants of over $7 million to about 1,100 businesses – just over a third of the $20 million originally allocated for the plan.

Version 2.0 of the county’s program allows more small businesses to receive the funds that are part of a $93.7 million federal grant program to address the negative effects of the pandemic. So if you’re a business owner who has not yet received any of the free money, here are the relevant changes to the plan:

  • The county increased the number of paid employees a business can have from no more than 25 to no more than 49.
  • The total annual gross receipts of the business must now be $3 million or less, up from $2 million.
  • The county removed restrictions for businesses that have already received federal COVID-19 relief funding directly.

In order to get funds, the business must have “suffered significant economic damages, temporary loss of revenue or job losses directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly businesses that have been directly affected by state and local business closure orders.”

Acceptance of grant applications for the new version of the payout plan begins on Monday, August 3 and will continue until the remainder of the $20 million of initially allocated funds is expended.

The county has been trying hard to publicize the program because, if the funds go unused by the end of the year, the money will be returned to the federal government, and obviously the commissioners want to see those federal dollars injected into the local economy.

In a July 31 press release announcing the new program, Guilford County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Phillips commented on the revamped program.

“The County’s team has done a remarkable job launching a business relief program under these extreme circumstances and short timeframes,” Phillips stated.

“Getting $7 million in relief aid directly into the hands of our businesses is no small feat. After running Phase One for a little more than 30 days now, we have learned a lot, listened to the feedback from our business community, and feel that this relaunch will help address expansion eligibility to include more of our local business. Our number one goal has always been to get these relief funds to our businesses as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”

Information regarding eligibility and the documents needed for the application was made available on Saturday, August 1 on Guilford County’s website at Businesses will be able to ask questions before completing an online application by calling 336-641-5051 starting on August 3 at 9 a.m.

The money will be distributed to eligible businesses on a first come-first served basis.