In the movie Brewster’s Millions, Montgomery Brewster, played by Richard Pryor, must spend $30 million in 30 days while following a set of guidelines and, if he can’t do it, he stands to lose a $300 million inheritance.  

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners isn’t in exactly that same situation but it is in a very similar one. The board has been given nearly $94 million by the federal government in COVID-19 relief funds and it must use that money by the end of the year or lose it.

That’s really good news for small businesses in Guilford County that have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic because the county has set aside $20 million for relief grants to go to area small businesses. It’s good news, that is, if the businesses are aware of the program. But many local businesses appear not to be.

This week, during a Guilford County Board of Commissioners budget work session, Chairman Jeff Phillips said he’s been concerned about the fact that, while many businesses were applying for the grants made possible by federal relief money, many business owners aren’t aware that they are eligible.

Phillips said at the meeting that he was surprised recently when he was talking with three owners of small local businesses.

“None of them knew about this program,” Phillips said.

Also, so far, local businesses have claimed only about 10 percent of the money that’s waiting to be given to eligible small businesses. The current maximum relief payment for a small business in Guilford County is $10,000 – which would no doubt be helpful to many hurt by the pandemic.

Phillips and other commissioners, along with county staff, are looking into advertising the program in local media, and are also encouraging reporters to make sure the public is aware of the plan.

Those who want to apply for the free money can go to You can’t miss the banner graphic at the top of the page advertising the program.