South Dakota businesses and nonprofits that have been hurt by the pandemic have a short time to apply for their share of $450 million in government grants.
Congress passed the CARES Act pandemic relief bill in March, and state government got $1.25 billion.
About half of the money went unspent through the spring and summer. Ian Fury, spokesman for Gov. Kristi Noem, said there were reasons for that.
“Because we wanted to make sure it was structured right," Fury said, "and also because we were giving Congress more time to provide us the flexibility that we’ve been looking for.”
State officials wanted more time to spend the money, and more freedom over how to spend it.
But that flexibility never came. So state officials are rushing to spend the money by the end-of-the-year deadline.
They’ve set aside $400 million for grants to businesses, $40 million for nonprofits and $10 million for business startups. The maximum grant is $100,000.
Applications opened Tuesday. They’ll stay open 10 days, through Oct. 23. The state hired a global consulting company, Guidehouse, to manage the process (including additional grants to healthcare providers) and will pay the company up to $6 million. Fury said that money will also come from the CARES Act.
Most applicants have to show a 25 percent reduction in cash flow to get a grant. Dave Sager, of Guidehouse, said during a webinar with potential applicants that if demand exceeds funding, the state will prorate the grants. But he encouraged businesses to apply, even if they doubt their eligibility.
“We get total applications for less than the $400 million, in which case the state may want to go back and look at those who didn’t reach the 25 percent threshold, and have another round," Sager said. "And this way, they don’t have to go back for another set of applications.”
-Seth Tupper is SDPB's business and economic development reporter.