Noem Says Fed Money Could Be Used For Business Grants

Jun 23, 2020

Gov. Kristi Noem speaks Tuesday at City Hall in Rapid City. Looking on, from left, are Assistant Police Chief Don Hedrick, Sheriff Kevin Thom, State Chief Financial Officer Liza Clark, Mayor Steve Allender, ASL interpreter Katie Peterson and Pennington County Commissioner Deb Hadcock.
Credit Seth Tupper / SDPB

Small businesses in South Dakota may get an opportunity to apply for pandemic-relief grants. 

Gov. Kristi Noem said the money would come from the $1.25 billion in federal aid the state already received.  

Noem is busy finding ways to spend that federal money. This week, she’s on a tour of the state. The focus of her message is $200 million from that federal package that can reimburse local governments for pandemic expenses. 

Noem said Tuesday in Rapid City there’s another potential way to spend more of the money. 

“We do anticipate there will be some additional resources coming forward for small businesses and other entities,” Noem said, “but that will be new programs that will require the input of the Legislature in coming days.” 

Noem said lawmakers could create a small business relief program at a special session in the next several months. 

“We're hoping it’ll be a small business program that will come in and not only help them with some of the revenue losses that they’ve seen in recent months because of the economic downturn,” Noem said, “but that it would be flexible enough that we could build in an opportunity for them to be innovative, and to be more successful into the future.” 

The program is likely to include grants for small business owners instead of loans, said Liza Clark, who leads the governor’s budget office. She said the $1.25 billion has to be spent by Dec. 30. 

“So that’s why a grant program would make the most sense,” Clark said. 

The state has already used its own money to loan $10.5 million to small businesses affected by the pandemic. Those loans are interest-free.  

The federal government has also loaned about $1.6 billion to South Dakota businesses and nonprofits through the Paycheck Protection Program. Those loans are forgivable if most of the money is spent on payroll.