PITTSBURG, Kan. — Local small businesses that have not yet been able to receive relief funding during previous rounds of distribution of federal money in response to the coronavirus pandemic could soon get another opportunity.
The Pittsburg City Commission held a special meeting Tuesday to authorize applying for federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding administered through the Kansas Department of Commerce, which is being made available through the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus Response Supplement (CDBG-CV) program.
Over $9 million was recently provided to the State of Kansas for distribution to local governments on a first-come, first-served basis, and the city is applying for $400,000. If it receives the full amount, $300,000 will be made available for local businesses impacted by the coronavirus, and $100,000 for meal programs.
“We have a process around that that we’re going to develop,” Deputy City Manager Jay Byers said Tuesday. The city’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) will review applications for grant funding from businesses and the city will use the Paycheck Protection Program application form “as kind of a model to use for that,” he said.
“Businesses are going to be able to fill out that form, apply for it, and then the EDAC group will review it and make recommendations,” Byers said. “We’re going to cap the grants at $10,000.”
In response to a question from Commissioner Chuck Munsell about which businesses would be prioritized for grant funding, Byers said the city would “look for the smaller businesses, and we’re going to look at businesses that are particularly hard hit and that haven’t been able to get adequate funding through other sources.”
Byers also noted that the $100,000 for meal programs can be divided between local recognized meal provider groups, including Wesley House and the Lord’s Diner. In response to questions from commissioners Patrick O’Bryan and Cheryl Brooks, Byers said Meals on Wheels and church food pantries might also qualify, although school meal programs would not because they are funded through another source.
Aside from authorization to apply for the grant, the city commission also approved a $15,000 consulting agreement Tuesday with the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission (SEKRPC) related to the grant funding.
Asked by Brooks if the city could save money by handling the application in-house, Byers said it might be possible, but the reason for the city to contract with the SEKRPC is because of its knowledge of the relevant programs and the short time frame for applying for the grant.
“In this case there’s a definite risk for us not being able to meet all the deadlines and details of this grant application,” Byers said.
Besides approval from the city commission, another requirement for the city to receive the grant funding is that it hold a public hearing on the issue, which has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at the Pittsburg Law Enforcement Center courtroom, 201 N. Pine St.
The limit on the number of people allowed at “mass gatherings” under Gov. Laura Kelly’s most recent revision to her “Ad Astra” reopening plan will be increased to 15 on Friday. If more than 15 people want to attend and comment at the hearing they can be accommodated by being allowed into the courtroom to speak on a rotating basis. The city commissioners do not necessarily have to attend the hearing, Byers said.