Buchanan County has $9 million dollars in unused CARES act funding

“The process of getting this grant money, ridiculously easy," said Austin Evans, local business owner.

Posted: Jul 7, 2020 7:38 AM
Updated: Jul 7, 2020 10:24 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Buchanan County is sitting on over $9 million dollars of unused CARES act funding. 

As of last Friday, only 70 businesses in the entire county have applied for this grant. County commissioners said the funding is meant to help small businesses get through the pandemic, but there's been less applicants than the county had originally thought. 

“We had anticipated a much larger response and maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it tells us we weren’t as impacted as we were," said Scott Burnham, Buchanan County's Eastern District Commissioner. 

While commissioners said the smaller pool of applicants could be attributed to the county doing better during the COVID-19 health crisis than anticipated, for small business owners like Austin Evans who owns three businesses in St. Joseph, he said getting that extra money made a difference. 

“To get the grant money on the local level from the county was unexpected and awesome because at this point, revenues are bouncing back but you still feel the hit we all took from it. To get $5,000 dollars as sort of a windfall and as a cushion to help continue to assist through this and not know if there is going to be a second wave, has been incredible,” said Austin Evans, local business owner. 

Evans received the grants for all three of his businesses. He said applying for the CARES act funding was simple. 

“The process of getting this grant money, ridiculously easy. People get lazy about it and think it’s too much paperwork. Let me tell you, it’s like six pieces of paperwork. I didn’t even have one or two of the things, I was digging for it and I couldn’t find it. I sent in my application anyway. For example, I couldn’t find a county business license and I knew I had one. I sent it in without it and they looked it up, I’m good. I got it and got me the funds quick. I mean you’re talking about a week turnaround time,” said Evans. 

County commissioners remind small businesses the CARES act funding is not only the $5,000 grant, but it also includes PPE reimbursement too.  

“Masks, gloves, disinfected, hand sanitizer, even the glass shields some businesses have had to install. Those are all reimbursable,” said Burnham. 

County commissioners have extended the cut off date for businesses to apply for the grant, extending to the end of July. 

Burnham said the CARES act funding is a grant, not a loan and does not need to be paid back. 

Small businesses operating with 2-40 employees  may apply for the funding. 

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Temperatures started out on the mild side with most areas in the upper 40s and lower 50s. Monday was another warm and windy day with temperatures climbing into the lower 70s. With the dry conditions outdoor burning should be avoided Monday and Tuesday as low humidity and gusty winds continue. Winds will stay breezy over the next few days with wind gusts around 20-30 mph. A more active pattern of weather will settle in for most of this week with our first chance of light rain overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. A better chance for more moderate to heavy rain with possibly a few thunderstorms will move into the area Wednesday night into Thursday with a cold front. That front will stall south of our area late in the week, providing several more chances for rain throughout the rest of the week into the weekend. Temperatures will be a bit cooler after the cold front rolls through with highs back in the 50s.
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