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Noem Rolls Out $400 Million Business Grant Plan

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State of South Dakota
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South Dakota businesses affected by the pandemic could soon have another opportunity to get help. 

Gov. Kristi Noem wants to use federal money for up to $400 million in business grants.

The money would come from $1.25 billion in aid that South Dakota got from the federal government at the beginning of the pandemic. 

Noem has already designated large chunks of that money for schools and local governments. Spokesman Ian Fury said the governor is now asking legislators for feedback on her business grant proposal. 

“Our state’s economy is in far better shape than a lot of other states at this point in time. But some of our businesses did take a hit when they adjusted their behavior when the pandemic hit,” Fury said. “Hopefully this will help those businesses rebound from COVID-19 and continue this strong economic trend that we’re seeing here in the state.” 

The proposal calls for grants of up to $100,000. To qualify, proposed rules say businesses would have to show at least $50,000 in gross revenue last year. And they’d have to show a reduction in business of at least 25 percent between March and May this year due to COVID-19. 

 

The state has already loaned $10.5 million of its own money to businesses suffering from the pandemic. And South Dakota businesses have received about $1.7 billion in forgivable loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress created in response to the pandemic. 

 

David Owen is with the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said the aid numbers are staggering, but South Dakota businesses need the help. 

 

“I don’t think this is a time for philosophical purity,” Owen said. “This is a practical time to roll up our sleeves and do whatever we think is going to help.” 

 

Noem wants to take applications for the grants Oct. 12-23. A first round of grants would go out. If there’s still money left, a  second round could be awarded. 

 

The grant proposal is the latest in a series of announcements by Noem about the $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus aid. In addition to the $400 million for business grants, she’s also earmarked up to $200 million for local governments and $75 million for schools. The Noem administration says the federal money has to be spent by the end of the year. 

 

Some legislators have said a special session should be called to make decisions about the spending, but so far, legislators have not taken formal action to call a special session or set a date.

 

Rep. Chris Karr, R-Sioux Falls, co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee. He supports calling a special session to hear testimony on the proposed spending from people and sectors of the economy affected by the pandemic.

 

"Everybody would be included in that, and I think you get the best product when that happens," Karr said.

 

He added that there is support for a special session in the House, but, “It’s not clear on whether the Senate would support that."

Seth supervises SDPB's beat reporters and newscast team. He works at SDPB's Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.
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