WALLINGFORD — Beginning Sunday, town small business owners and nonprofits can apply online for a portion of the town's American Rescue Plan Act funding Congress allocated to help states and businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic.
On Sunday, a link will go live on the town's website, wallingfordct.gov, where nonprofits and small businesses can submit applications for grants funded through the act. Hard copies of applications also will be available at the Town Clerk's Office and must be submitted there in person or by mail. All applications are due on Dec. 9 at 5 p.m.
Grants are available for up to $25,000 for small businesses that have been in business since at least 2019, have no more than 60 employees and can show they were negatively impacted by the pandemic. Nonprofits also must have been in existence since at least 2019, serve the town of Wallingford and can show they either suffered a negative impact or offer programs for those who did.
The town hired consultants UHY Advisors to help the town navigate the process, and on Oct. 12 they will host a webinar from 1-2 p.m. to explain the application and approval process and take questions. A link to join the webinar will be available on the town website.
In January and February, the ARPA Application Review Committee will review the applications and send its recommendations to Mayor William Dickinson Jr. and the Town Council, which will review them in February and award the grants in March.
The Economic Development Commission is working to make businesses and nonprofits aware of the program and how to apply for the grants. They are distributing fliers to town businesses and advertising it on social media in the hopes it will reach anyone interested and eligible.
"Not everyone comes from the same place, and some people really don't understand and they think it's another PPP (loan program) and how complicated it is, and I try to explain to them," EDC Chairman Joseph Mirra said at Monday's commission meeting. "I say to them, to be honest, it's a scaled down version, but what they should do is talk to their accountant rather than me try to educate them and possibly say something wrong," he said. Accountants will be able to advise their clients whether the program is a good fit, Mirra said.
The commission sent out notices about the UHY Advisors training session, Mirra said, and once the commission has a list of interested businesses, it will host training sessions as well for small businesses.
"What we are trying to do is really help the town with a good flow of applications," he said. "We are trying to prevent applications that would take up a lot of time that maybe shouldn't have been processed and give the businesses details as needed so people are not spinning their wheels so we can get through this process easy. A lot of people worked really hard over the last eight months to make this happen and we just want to make sure that everyone who is entitled has a fair shot."
While the Economic Development Commission is focusing on small businesses, the United Way is going to be available to help nonprofits through the process, Mirra said. "People who have a nonprofit and have questions can go through them," he said. The town is home to around 60 nonprofits, but Mirra said he didn't know how many might qualify for the money.
The businesses and nonprofits need the help, Mirra said, but warned they need to act quickly. "The more we can get the word out, the better off we are," he said. "What scares me is getting the word out late because if people wait and think they're going to do it over Thanksgiving, and you're going to have the people who should have gotten it not get it."