'A lot of ins and outs,': Milford advises businesses on block grant applications

Milford Economic and Community Development Director Julie Nash

Milford Economic and Community Development Director Julie Nash

Contributed photo /

MILFORD - Local businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic can get help from the city, according to Economic and Community Development Director Julie Nash.

Nash, who this week held a webinar on applying for aid , said the funds are available through the Community Development Block Grant - Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as CARES.

“We want to get the money out,” Nash said. “We want to make it as easy as possible, but again these are the things we must have for the federal government. We’ve pared down the original application. There are a lot of ins and outs.”

Business applicants can receive a short-term reimbursable grant up to $5,000 upon review of requested documentation, she said.

Grant administrator Sheila Dravis said the money comes from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. The city receives funding based on several criteria, including population and the concentration of low and moderate income families in the community.

Milford is among the Connecticut communities that is eligible. The program seeks to strengthen and enhance small businesses, while benefiting employment opportunity for low- and moderate-income households.

A business owner may be eligible for funds in the form of a reimbursement for expenses incurred after March 27, 2020 directly related to planning, preparing and responding to the economic impact of the coronavirus. Applications will be reviewed based on overall need and eligibility of the business.

Nash said the most important factor in receiving grant funds is completing the application thoroughly.

“The checklist is important,” Nash said. “Every application we have received so far has not included all of the checklist information. That delays everything. We can’t start processing unless it is all there.

Also, business owners should avoid duplicating reimbursements, she said.

“If you have received funding from another program, say for rent, you would have to ask for help with something else like utilities payments or hand-washing stations,”she said. “You cannot duplicate funding received from other sources.”

The webinar also gave business owners a chance to ask questions about applying for grant reimbursement.

Businesses with up to 30 employees, including the owner, or with a payroll less than $1.5 million at the end of 2019 are eligible for grant funding. Applicants must provide proof of the economic impact due to COVID-19 resulting in a loss of income due to canceled contracts, closure, reduced business hours, care for sick family, employee resignations.

To be eligible, the business must be in operation at least a year from the date of application. Business or employee income must meet HUD median income limits for Milford and the business must have its principal operations located in Milford.

Business must be current on all federal, state and local tax obligations. To ensure the goals are met, recipients are required to provide brief quarterly reports on business activity, job creation and growth for a one-year period after the assistance.

Allowable expenses to qualify for reimbursement include rent and up to three months utility costs, payroll expenses to hire or replace employees choosing not to work due to COVID-19 related circumstances. Equipment and safety materials including sanitizer stations and personal protective equipment are also reimbursable, as is professional cleaning services, delivery services and job training to expand the skills of employees.

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