Small Business Relief Program

(Updated May 20, 2020) The Small Business Relief Program will provide Hamilton County small businesses with some monetary relief from business interruption costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The application link can be found below. Eligible small businesses can apply for $2,500, $5,000, or $10,000 in Grant Funds to be used for the reimbursement of certain Eligible Expenses, as defined below.  Hamilton County will be utilizing $5 million of its CARES Act allotment for the first 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 SBRelief@hamilton-co.org

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 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: https://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/displayHomePage.do
  3. Have been operational since January of 2019. This can be evidenced, at a minimum, by: a) filing(s) with the Ohio Secretary of State, such as articles of incorporation or other registration documents along with an Ohio Secretary of State Certificate of Good Standing; b) an Ohio vendor’s license; c) Federal Schedule C – Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship); or any other documents that demonstrate that the business has been in operation as a for-profit entity since January 2019.
  4. Have less than $1 million in gross revenue/receipts on an annual basis. This can be evidenced by records such as the business’ 2018 and 2019 federal income tax return or financial statements.
  5. Must have experienced a decrease in gross revenue/receipts of 35% or more due to COVID-19 when comparing March 1 – April 30, 2019 revenue/receipts to revenue/receipts for March 1 - April 30, 2020. This can be evidenced by financial information/records, including, at a minimum, bank statements.
  6. UPDATE--- Have 50 or fewer employees or 1099 workers as of March 22, 2020.  This can be demonstrated by forms such as 2019 Form W-3 (Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statement) or 2019 Form 1096 (Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns) and payroll reports or checks that evidence number of workers as of March 22, 2020 or statement attesting/certifying that your business has no employees or 1099 workers.
  7. UPDATE-- Has not received or not been approved for other federal assistance for lost revenue or expenses arising from the pandemic, including Paycheck Protection Program, Emergency Disaster Loan.
  8. Has not been approved for a business interruption insurance claim as result of COVID-19.
  9. 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 premium statement and property tax bills.
  10. Must be able to attest that it is in compliance with federal, state, or county and local requirements applicable to its type of business.
  11. Must be able to must attest that it is current with all federal, state, county and local taxes and fees.
  12. Must be able to attest that it is in good standing with all applicable government regulations related to building code or property maintenance issues.
  13. Must be able to attest that it is not a nuisance property for police/fire/EMS calls.
  14. Must be able to attest that it is not currently in bankruptcy.

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

Eligible Expenses

Grant Funds provided by Hamilton County’s Small Business Relief Program can only be used to pay the expenses of the business: a) related to the costs of business interruption caused by required closures; or  b) that the business faces due to its uncertainty as to its ability to pay due to the pandemic. Eligible expenses include, but are not limited to:

  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. Materials and supplies related to interruption of the business caused by required closures.
  6. Personal Protective Equipment or other COVID-19 related costs such as expenses related to compliance with Responsible RestartOhio.
  7. Sole proprietors can use grant funding as income replacement by providing documentation on lost revenue from March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2020 due to COVID-19 so long as no unemployment benefits are being received or are expected to be received by the applicant. If not already submitted, upload the most recent filed Schedule C - Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship).

If awarded, all Grant funding distributed as a part of this program must be spent within 90 calendar days of receipt. Grant funds can be used to reimburse eligible expenses incurred from March 23, 2020 through 90 calendar days from receipt of grant funds. At the end of the grant term, the business shall submit an itemized list of all expenditures along with all supporting documentation. Documentation shall be in the form of paid invoices and canceled checks, bank statements, or similar documentation showing payment of Eligible Expenses. If the business cannot properly substantiate its eligible expenses, the business will be required to repay the undocumented grant funds.

Ineligible Expenses

  1. Cost of vehicle or equipment leased or purchased after March 23, 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.

Process

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 choose to apply for a $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 grant. If awarded, all Grant funding distributed as a part of this program must be spent within 90 calendar days of receipt. Grant funds can be used to reimburse Eligible Expenses incurred from March 23, 2020 and ends 90 calendar days from receipt of grant funds. Applications can be submitted online beginning at 5:00 p.m. May 20 through Wednesday, May 27 at 5:00 p.m.

2. Use of Lottery to Allocate Funding

A business that has met all of the eligibility criteria through the application will be entered into one of two lotteries based on the number of employees/1099 workers.  Lottery A: 0 – 10 employees/1099 workers and Lottery B; 11 – 50 employees/1099 workers. The Five Million Dollars in 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 funding will be allocated to Lottery A and 30 percent of the funding will be allocated to Lottery B).

3. Documentation Submission

A business selected as a part of the lottery will be invited to the next stage which will require the business to upload information and documents demonstrating that it meets the eligibility requirements and confirming how the Grant funds will be spent.  The business shall upload all required documentation within 7 calendar days of notification of lottery.

A team consisting of HCDC, 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 and Signed Agreement

Once approved for a grant, the business must sign and return the Grant Agreement within 10 calendar days of receipt and provide its bank routing number for grant fund payment.  

5. Close Out Report

Businesses are required to submit a grant final report which is expected to include at minimum, jobs retained/created, proof of payment (paid invoices and  cancelled checks, bank statements, or other documentation showing proof of payment of Eligible Expenses), and a summary of the impact the funds had on the business and its operations.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may view a list of Frequently Asked Questions here.