The Cowley County Commission is expected to hold a public hearing next month on a proposal that could lead to small business grants for local companies.

The 9 a.m. hearing June 2 would invite public comments on whether the county should apply for a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant.

The commission is expected to set the hearing date at its meeting Tuesday night.

The potential help comes during a difficult economic time nationally, statewide and in Cowley County. Unemployment figures released Friday by the Kansas Department of Labor show that the state’s jobless rate reached 11.2 percent in April.

Cowley County fared even worse, with a 14.1 percent unemployment rate. The south-central Kansas region is being hit hard. Sedgwick County’s jobless rate in April was 18.7 percent, Butler County 14.5 percent, and Sumner County 17.5 percent.

The national rate is 14.7 percent, according to The Associated Press.

The block grant funds would provide funding for small business grants in Cowley County and will be administered through Cowley First.

Cowley First Director Kerri Falletti said the CDBG funding comes from money the state of Kansas received from the federal government through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act to provide resources for small businesses affected by the pandemic.

The county can apply to receive $300,000 in grant money, Falletti said. Two categories of business may be eligible — those with five or fewer employees and those with between six and 50 employees.

There are also employee income limits included in the individual business applications, Falletti said, because the CARES Act was designed to help families as well as businesses.

Fallettii said the money could be used for inventory and expenses among other things. For restaurants that have been closed, a grant could be used to get up to 60 days’ worth of supplies.

Because the state has only $9 million to distribute through CARES, Falletti said it is important to get the county’s application in as quickly as possible.

“It’s first-come, first-serve,” she said. “There are so many businesses needing help that they will be glad of any help they can get.”

For more information, contact Falletti at (620) 221-9951.

 

CourierTraveler Publisher David A. Seaton contributed to this story.

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