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City of Boise small business grant program opens

Over 250 local small businesses are expected to receive $4,000 grants.

BOISE, Idaho — Applications for the City of Boise Small Business Grant Program opened Wednesday to provide relief and support to local small business owners.

The program comes after Mayor Lauren McLean and the Boise City Council approved $2 million in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds for small business in Boise earlier this year. 

The program aims to support over 250 small businesses in industries that were heavily impacted by the pandemic.

"Small businesses are just an absolute important part of the personality and culture of our city," Kate Nelson, Director of Community Partnerships for Mayor McLean's office said. "So, we recognize that earlier on in the pandemic, although there were some relief programs, it was very difficult for particularly small businesses to access those funds."

Mini-grants of $4,000 will be distributed to eligible businesses.

The city is partnering with nonprofit United Way of the Treasure Valley for the program. 

"Our mission is to support children and families that are struggling, so that they have educational opportunity, live healthy lifestyles, and are financially stable, and we know that a lot of families, although working hard, have had trouble making ends meet during the pandemic," Tim Jackson, President and CEO of United Way of Treasure Valley said. "One of those populations is a lot of our small business owners. These are small businesses that are maybe an auto mechanic shop or beauty salon, pet salon, or retail, at a really small scale. So, it really aligns with our mission in helping those families to be able to make ends meet and provide for themselves and be successful."

United Way will be holding the funds, vetting businesses, and giving out the payments. 

"The city has been very intentional around trying to identify a segment that hasn't already received federal dollars," Jackson said. "Because the city received approximately $10 million, and through three grant programs - this being one of them - they're trying to strategically invest those dollars that they've already received from the government in the best way possible. "

To qualify for the grant, businesses must be in Boise, have fewer than 20 employees, and bring in less than $1 million in revenue in a year. Businesses must also be in a specific industry that was impacted by the pandemic

Applications opened Wednesday and will close Jan. 31.

"It's important to note that this is not a first-come, first-serve funding application, this grant period will remain open until the very end of January," Nelson said. "We have built in a prioritization rubric instead of first-come, first-serve so that we know we are targeting the businesses that have really not been able to access support previously."

Two businesses have applied for the program so far and Nelson said the application took them about 15 minutes.

"Hit some very key groups that haven't already received federal dollars that, like I said, are populations that are struggling in other ways," Jackson said. "That if they're able to be more self-sufficient, it also reduces their need for other government services and enables them to provide for themselves."

More information on the grant program and eligibility can be found on the City of Boise's website. Applications must be submitted through this portal

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