GEDA: Small businesses await decisions for up to $10K aid

SLOW REOPENING: Many small businesses at the Compadres Mall in Dededo saw few customers on May 1 after reopening. Haruo Simion/The Guam Daily Post

Small businesses that have applied for the first round of a $20 million local grant program – using federal funds – will likely receive anywhere from $250 to $10,000, once the Guam Economic Development Authority starts approvals next week.

At least 570 applications were under review as of May 21, GEDA Deputy Administrator Ricky Hernandez said on Friday.

Many applications have been submitted, but data is not available on those at the moment, he said.

"GEDA anticipates sending approved grant applications to (the Department of Administration) on Tuesday, June 2, by close of business to begin check processing," Hernandez said, adding that this is just the first batch.

The $20 million program is meant to help small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The response has been very positive about the program, based on the phone calls into our office, emails into our inbox, and applications received. Our team worked through the weekend to prepare as many applications as possible for evaluation," said GEDA Administrator Melanie Mendiola.

Home-based businesses, salons and barber shops, retailers, restaurants and food trucks, among others, are among the applicants, she said.

GEDA has fielded at least 150 calls and received 1,844 emails about the program. The online application form on the GEDA website has been downloaded at least 3,878 times.

The first round of funding, $10 million, is for businesses with less than $500,000 in gross receipts that have not received federal assistance through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans or the Paycheck Protection Program.

Therefore, the grant award will likely not exceed $10,000 for any one applicant for the first round, GEDA stated.

"We are seeing a range of prospective awards, from $250 to $10,000," Mendiola said. "Calculations all depend on the amount of gross receipts an applicant has submitted to (the Department of Revenue and Taxation) prior to COVID-19 interruption."

The second round of funding, or the remaining $10 million, will benefit businesses with up to $1.5 million annual gross receipts regardless of federal award status under other programs.

Submissions are first evaluated for completion. If an application is incomplete, GEDA notifies the applicant.

Once an application package is deemed complete, it can then move along in the process for evaluation.

Funding for the grant program came from the nearly $118 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Support, or CARES, Act money that GovGuam received from the federal government.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's priority was to use $20 million to assist small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mendiola said.

"If you look across the United States at what other cities and counties are doing, you will find that many jurisdictions are leaving small business assistance up to the national level through the (Small Business Administration). GEDA is grateful to be assisting in getting direct help out there at the local level," she said.

For those not eligible under the $20 million program, GEDA continues to promote other GEDA programs, including the Pandemic Assistance Loan program.

Interested participants can go online for a list of eligibility requirements: www.investguam.com/smallbusiness.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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