Lawmakers send small business grant bill to governor, would provide direct cash payments for businesses

Published 10:54 am Thursday, May 14, 2020

Small businesses across Mississippi which closed as a result of COVID-19 may soon get a boost from a bill sent to the governor today.

Senate Bill 2772 sets aside $300 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to create two programs providing a direct payment to some businesses and a grant to others.  The direct payment program would provide qualifying businesses which shut down — including hair stylists, fitness centers, and some restaurants — a flat $2,000 check.  All small businesses with 50 or less employees that experienced interruption can apply for the “Back to Business Mississippi Grant Fund,” authorizing up to $25,000 for costs incurred as a result of the virus.

The legislation provides $60 million to the direct payment program and $240 million to grants. For the first 60 days, $40 million from the grant program will be set aside for minority-owned businesses. For the first 21 days of the application period for the grant program, only businesses which did not receive funds from the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance, any other federal program, or compensation from business interruption insurance will be considered.

“When Mississippi’s economy is thriving, it is because our small businesses are thriving.  This crisis has hit our small businesses hard,” Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said. “We need to support them now by pushing the money the federal government provided to the State down to them as quickly as possible.”

To qualify under either program, a business must:

  • Have registered with the Mississippi Department of Revenue on or before March 1, 2020;
  • Have filed state taxes for the 2018 or 2019 tax year, or plan to file state taxes for 2020 (only businesses which were created on or after January 1, 2020);
  • Not be a subsidiary of a business with 50 or less employees, or be part of or owned by a larger business enterprise with 50 or less employees; and
  • Be controlled by one or more Mississippi residents.

The programs are available to all small businesses, including sole proprietorships.

The Mississippi Development Authority, the State’s economic arm, will administer the grant program.  The agency may retain up to $900,000 to administer the program.  The direct payment program will be administered by the Mississippi Department of Revenue and the Department of Finance and Administration.

The full text of the bill is available here: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2020/pdf/SB/2700-2799/SB2772SG.pdf.