Small Business Relief Program

The Hamilton County CARES Small Business Relief Program provides Hamilton County small businesses with some monetary relief from business interruption costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible small businesses are able to apply for up to $10,000 in Grant Funds to be used for the reimbursement of certain Eligible Expenses, as defined below.  Hamilton County utilized over $5 million of its CARES Act allotment for the second round of assistance.

Small businesses can sign up on the County's website to receive notifications concerning the program. For questions regarding the program, please email

Application Period is Now Closed

  Please sign-up here for email notifications on future CARES Act opportunities

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible to apply for Grant Funds under the Hamilton County Small Business Relief Program, a business must meet the following criteria:

  1. Must be a for-profit entity with a business location in Hamilton County.
  2. Have a Federal Taxpayer Identification Number for its type of business and a DUNS number.  The business must have a DUNS number prior to being awarded grant funding. A DUNS number can be requested here:
  3. Have been operational since January of 2019. This can be evidenced by submitting the business’ 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return.
  4. Have less than $2 million in gross revenue/receipts on an annual basis. This can be evidenced by submitting the most recent federal income tax return (2018 or 2019).
  5. Must have experienced a financial impact due to COVID-19 public health emergency.
    • If the business was required to cease operations due to Ohio Department of Health Orders issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio, no additional documentation is required.
    • If the business was not required to cease operations due to Ohio Department of Health Orders issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio, it must have a decrease in gross revenue/receipts of 15% or more due to COVID-19 when comparing April - May, 2019 revenue/receipts to revenue/receipts for April - May, 2020.
  6. Have 50 or fewer employees or 1099 workers as of March 1, 2020.
  7. Business location in Hamilton County, Ohio and the grant funding will be used for expenses for that business. This can be evidenced by records such as a mortgage statement, utility bill, insurance statement, and property tax bills.
  8. Has not been approved for a business interruption insurance claim as result of COVID-19.
  9. Must be able to attest that it is in compliance with federal, state, or county and local requirements applicable to its type of business, including tax payments and code enforcement.
  10. Must be able to attest that it is not currently in bankruptcy.
  11. Must not have received or been approved for more than $20,000 in other federal assistance for lost revenue or expenses arising from the pandemic, including Paycheck Protection Program, Emergency Disaster Loan.
  12. Must have the ability to use this funding for expenditures over and above those expenses already paid for, or to be paid for, with other federal, state, local or other funding assistance.

Ineligible Small Businesses

A business is not eligible to apply for Grant Funds under the Hamilton County Small Business Relief Program if it primarily operates as one of the following:

  1. Adult entertainment establishment
  2. Bank, savings and loan or credit union
  3. E-commerce only company
  4. Liquor / wine store
  5. Vaping store
  6. Tobacco store
  7. Cannabis dispensary
  8. Franchised business not locally owned and independently operated
  9. Real estate investment trusts
  10. Independent contractors working on gig platforms (such as Airbnb, Fiverr, Uber, Lyft, Instacart, etc.)
  11. Businesses that received funding through the first round of Hamilton County’s Small Business Relief Program

Eligible Expenses

  1. Mortgage costs. Mortgage costs for businesses that are located in or operated out of a personal residence are not an eligible expense.
  2. Rent or lease costs.  Rent or lease costs for businesses that are located in or operated out of a personal residence are not an eligible expense.
  3. Expenses for utilities, such as electric, gas, sewer, water, trash removal.  Utility costs for businesses that are located in or operated out of personal residence are not an eligible expense.
  4. Salaries, wages or compensation paid to employees or 1099 workers.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment or other COVID-19 related costs such as expenses related to compliance with Responsible RestartOhio.
  6. Sole proprietors may use grant funds from the Program to replace a portion of lost revenue due to COVID-19 so long as no unemployment benefits have been, are being received, or are expected to be received by the applicant. If the sole proprietor filed IRS Form 1040 and Schedule C for the tax year 2019, then the sole proprietor can use the grant funds to pay the sole proprietor the equivalent of up to ¼ of the net profit reported by the sole proprietor on line 31 of the Schedule C. If not already submitted, upload the most recent filed Schedule C - Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship).

Ineligible Expenses

  1. Cost of vehicle or equipment leased or purchased after March 15, 2020, except if the purchase of equipment is to comply with Responsible RestartOhio. 
  2. Personal, non-business expenses of the business or its owner(s).
  3. Construction costs. 
  4. Any tax, license or fee obligations payable to any governmental entity.
  5. Expenses related to Marketing, Advertising and Insurance.


*This is not an exhaustive list of ineligible expenses.


  Click here for a downloadable application how-to document

1. Application

A business that is interested in participating in the program must fill out the application to determine if it meets all of the eligibility criteria set forth above.  Sign up here to receive notification about this program.  A business can apply for up to a $10,000 grant. If awarded, all Grant funding distributed as a part of this program must be spent by December 1, 2020. Grant funds can be used to reimburse Eligible Expenses incurred from March 15, 2020 through December 1, 2020. Approved businesses must submit a close-out report by December 15, 2020, that includes source documentation of paid Eligible Expenses (paid invoice and proof of payment). Applications can be submitted online beginning at 12:00 p.m. August 24 through September 4 at 12:00 p.m.

2. Use of Lottery to Allocate Funding

A business that has met all of the eligibility criteria and has submitted a completed application will be entered into one of two lotteries based on the number of its employees/1099 workers. Lottery A: 0 – 10 employees/1099 workers and Lottery B; 11 – 50 employees/1099 workers. The allocated funding will be distributed to each of the lotteries based on the percentage of applicants in each lottery (for example, if 70 percent of total applicants are in Lottery A; then 70 percent of the allocated funding will be allocated to Lottery A and 30 percent of the allocated funding will be allocated to Lottery B).

3. Documentation Review

A team consisting of HCDC and Hamilton County (and/or its designees) will review and verify the documents. If the submitted information and documents do not demonstrate that the business has met the eligibility criteria, the next business chosen in the lottery will be contacted to submit the required documentation.

4. Payment

Once approved for a grant, a business must sign the grant agreement and provide its bank routing number for grant fund payment.

Note: The receipt of a government grant by a business generally is not excluded from the business's gross income under the Internal Revenue Code and therefore is taxable ( 

Frequently Asked Questions

You may view a list of Frequently Asked Questions here.

Round 1 (May 20 - May 27)

In this first round of funding, 217 small businesses received Hamilton County CARES Act grants to help weather the economic hardships caused by COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with HCDC, Inc., Hamilton County’s Economic Development Office, Hamilton County distributed over $1.7 Million in grant money to qualified small businesses in this first round of funding.

Of the 217 businesses, 93 businesses self-described as MBEs (43%), 105 businesses marked that they were WBEs (48%), 69 businesses checked that they were both MBE and WBE (32%) and 12 businesses claimed Veteran Owned status (6%).

You may view an interactive map of the approved businesses here, or download the full list of business here.