Superior’s City Council is considering changes to its Small Business Economic Relief Program as more businesses reopen following the state's stay-at-home order.

Originally created April 21, the program has awarded $70,959 to 51 small businesses in Superior as of Thursday, May 14. Originally, $80,000 was set aside.

Changes being considered Tuesday, May 19, would double the program's available funding, but the grants would only be awarded in amounts up to $750. Furthermore, the program would be open to more small businesses.

Under the original program, businesses could apply for up to $1,500 in grant funding through the relief program.

RELATED: Council approves relief for Superior small businesses, residents

Over the past four weeks, city officials learned the program came up short for people who are self-employed, sole proprietors or people who work out of their homes, wrote Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director in a memo to the Council. He said the guidelines for the program were expanded so any small business owner located in Superior could apply for relief.

“What we’re trying to do now is capture that other world of small business operators that aren’t large enough to operate out of storefronts," said Mayor Jim Paine.

The revised program allows any for-profit business with 25 or fewer employees to participate. Requirements for a commercial store or brick-and-mortar location were removed for program the Council is considering.

Bars and restaurants would still be able to have their annual liquor license fees waived and apply for a grant totaling $750.

Businesses that receive a grant through the Economic Relief program will not be eligible to apply for the city’s Small Business Grant Program for one year after a grant is awarded.

“This is a really vulnerable time, and I think a lot of small businesses have never had to go through anything like this,” Paine said. “For many of them it’s almost like starting fresh.”

He said businesses that haven’t used the program before could access it now to help with the expense of reopening.

The Council will consider the program at 6:30 p.m. May 19. The public is encouraged to attend by teleconference or view the meeting online or on Public Access Channel 180. To call in, dial 617-675-4444 and enter PIN 438 300 7771 0715#

Wisconsin offers small business grants

On Monday, May 18, Gov. Tony Evers announced $75 million in assistance for small businesses as part of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s “We’re All In” initiative, a comprehensive effort to celebrate and help Wisconsin’s small businesses get back on their feet and support best practices to keep businesses, consumers, employees and communities safe.

Funded largely by federal dollars received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the initiative will provide direct assistance to small businesses most impacted by the duration and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cash grants of $2,500 can be used to cover the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory. Businesses will be able to apply for grant assistance in early June.

Grant recipients will commit to using safety protocols in their shops, cafes and places of work to protect their customers, employees and communities.

The initiative will include:

  • Grants of $2,500 to small businesses with 20 or fewer FTEs impacted by COVID-19 that have not already received WEDC COVID-19 assistance. Up to 30,000 businesses may receive grants.
  • A series of guides for businesses looking to implement best practices to keep employees, customers and communities safe throughout the COVID-19 crisis. These guides are available at wedc.org/reopen-guidelines.
  • Ethnic Minority Emergency Grants, which will provide $2 million in grants for ethnically diverse Wisconsin micro-businesses that suffered losses due to the pandemic. The grants are for sole proprietorships or businesses with five or fewer employees that have not received assistance under either Small Business 20/20 program or SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. A total of 1,000 grants of $2,000 each will be administered.
  • An integrated public information campaign promoting We’re All In businesses and social practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.