Governor proposes expanding COVID small business grants eligibility guidelines

The proposed changes would allow more Alaska small businesses to get state coronavirus grants
Alaska State Capitol
Alaska State Capitol(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 5:15 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants to expand eligibility guidelines for Alaska CARES Act grants that have limited which small businesses can receive state help.

Small businesses that have received $5,000 or more in federal loans are currently prohibited from getting a share of $290 million in state grants. The grants are worth between $5,000 and $100,000.

Dunleavy has submitted a proposal to a special committee that represents the Alaska Legislature when it’s not in session. The proposal seeks to change eligibility guidelines for CARES Act grants but is not asking for a change in the amount of money the Legislature has approved.

In addition to allowing businesses that have received federal loans to apply for grants, the governor wants to tweak other eligibility requirements such as removing secondary income restrictions. The grants would still be limited to businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

If the proposal is approved by the committee, the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development would also have more flexibility in how it distributes the remaining CARES funds to businesses that meet the revised eligibility requirements.

The proposal from the governor comes as many Alaska businesses find themselves in need of help but unable to access state grants that are often larger than federal coronavirus loans. The state grants program has also been slow to be disbursed since being ratified by the Legislature in May.

“We are hearing very clearly from businesses throughout Alaska that relief needs to come now,” the governor said through a press release. “Through no fault of their own, entrepreneurs in our state are in jeopardy, and we need to be there for them, their workers, and their families.”

The State of Alaska won a lawsuit earlier in the year that challenged the process used to make a previous revision to the small business grants program.

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