With many local businesses struggling to survive amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Edmonton announced details Wednesday of its plan to help them.
The economic recovery program is a five-pronged initiative that includes the Edmonton Economic Recovery Grant.
According to the city, the grant is a two-phased funding program worth $5.3 million that is aimed at helping businesses through both the relaunch phase and recovery phase. The city said the funding will be distributed via a city stream and a business association stream.
“The city stream will provide matching grants of a maximum of $25,000 per grant to applicants struggling to reopen or pivot their business as a result of COVID-19,” the city said. “The business association stream will provide up to $75,000 per grant to applicants who deliver projects or programs that directly support the grant program criteria.”
While the criteria for successful grant applications has yet to be finalized, the city said it expects such criteria to relate to how the pandemic has impacted a business, how a business that receives a grant would help diversify Edmonton’s economy and what kind of jobs a grant would help create, among other factors.
Other elements of the city’s recovery program are to continue a one-on-one support program for businesses, a commitment to reducing red tape, customized responses to specific business needs for both relaunch and recovery, and to give businesses the option to reduce their business licence fee payment by 50 per cent until Dec. 31. While the latter compontent of the plan is an option for businesses, they must ask to have the payment reduced.
Mayor Don Iveson said the multi-faceted program, along with a previously approved property tax freeze for businesses, amounts to about $20 million in financial support from the city overall.
“Businesses are a vital part of our community and now they are facing significant challenges due to COVID-19,” Stephanie McCabe, the deputy city manager of urban form and corporate strategic development, said in a news release.
“The economic recovery program is a result of ongoing conversations we’ve had with the business community to help them adjust to the challenges imposed by the pandemic.”
The city said the program aligns with those offered by other orders of government as well as local agencies.
“Supporting local businesses means that you’re supporting your community,” Iveson tweeted on Wednesday, adding he was pleased city council unanimously passed the program and that he believes it will “provide tangible relief” to local businesses.
The city said it will post more information on its new grant program to its website some time after June 8.
It said the first phase of funding is expected to begin in mid-June, followed by the second phase starting in January 2021.