PITTSBURG, Kan. — At both the county and state level, the application period opened Wednesday for the latest round of Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) funding for businesses and nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.


"This is an opportunity to revitalize our economy and for businesses to receive some necessary relief," Gov. Laura Kelly said in a press release.


The application period for several state-level SPARK funding opportunities through the Kansas Department of Commerce opened at noon Wednesday, while the application period for the Crawford County SPARK Small Business/Nonprofit Grant Program Round Two opened at 8 a.m. Wednesday and continues until next Wednesday, Aug. 26, at noon.


A total of $130 million is being made available through the state-level program. At the county level, a total of $7.8 million has been awarded, $1.47 million of which has been set aside for grants to small businesses and nonprofits.


Grants administered through the Crawford County Commission program are available to 501c3 nonprofits and small businesses with 100 employees or less. Eligible businesses and nonprofits must also have been operating as of March 15, 2020 and still be operating, and must have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, among other requirements. Businesses and nonprofits that applied during Round One of the county program do not need to apply again in Round Two.


Eligible uses for SPARK funds — which do not need to be paid back, provided they are applied for properly — include COVID-related signage, cleaning expenses, personal protective equipment (PPE), payroll, fixed debts, accounts payable, and "other legitimate bills that were made difficult due to COVID-19," according to information on the county website.


Businesses and nonprofits can receive $500 per business, plus $500 per full-time employee and $250 per part-time employee, for a minimum award of $1,000 and a maximum of $20,000 through the county program. Entities receiving funds must attest that information submitted in applications is correct and provide proof of information including how funds will be used and that they experienced a financial impact from COVID-19.


Some businesses may be eligible for both county- and state-level SPARK funding, although they should not "double dip" — or in other words submit the same bills to both programs — as they will likely end up having to pay back any duplicated funds awarded and might face other penalties.


State-level SPARK funding programs include Small Business Working Capital Grants, which are available to Kansas businesses with less than 500 employees and "can be used to pay working capital expenses such as payroll, insurance, rent, mortgage payments, utilities, inventory and more," according to the Department of Commerce.


The Small Business Working Capital Grants program is just one of several SPARK funding opportunities that opened Wednesday through the Kansas Department of Commerce. Others include: Securing Local Food Systems Grants; PPE Procurement Grants; PPE Manufacturing Grants; COVID-19 Bioscience Product Development Acceleration Grants; Connectivity Emergency Response Grants; Broadband Partnership Adoption Grants; Domestic Supply Chain Fortification Grants; IT, Cybersecurity & IT Project Management Certification Training Grants; and Higher Education Advanced Manufacturing & IT Equipment Grants.


For more information on state-level SPARK funding opportunities, visit https://www.kansascommerce.gov/covidrelief/. For more information on the county-level program, visit https://www.crawfordcountykansas.org/sparkinfo.html.