HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WSAV) – It’s a program designed to help small businesses and non-profits in South Carolina get back on their feet after COVID-19 shutdowns.
$65 million in grant money in the state.
But how easy is it to apply?
Some Lowcountry experts are offering advice and help to make sure everyone gets the cash they need.
“Business dropped big time, especially by April,” says Tommy Thompson, GT International Cafe. “We dropped to not even 5% of the business we were doing last year.’
Tommy Thompson of the GT International Cafe on Hilton Head says his customers love the food, but COVID-19 kept many from coming and spending money for months.
“The bills never stop and when the customers don’t come in there’s no income,” says Thompson. “So it is me my daughter and my wife running the business. and it’s hard because I still have to pay bills at home.”
That’s why he’s applying for grant money through the CARES act.
“The fact you have a business license you filed your taxes, you are located in South Carolina are doing business in South Carolina and again have been hit hard by COVID-19,” said Hannah Horne, Vice President of Public Policy and Programs for the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.
Those are basic requirements for the grant. As much as $25,000 for small businesses and $50,000 for qualified non-profits is available, but it’s the application process that could trip many people up.
“What were your operating expenses? What were your staffing expenses? Any expenses on PPE in your business?” explains Horne. “They really want the onus to be place don the business or non-profit to make sure COVID-19 truly did hurt your business or non-profit.’
“There’s no way to know how many businesses and non-profits will take advantage of this. Some will not have the time or energy or staff available to be able to get together the documents to even apply. Most will be eligible, to be honest with you. There is not really anything that keeps a business of non-profit from applying its just a matter of will you take the time to apply for it.”
“It’s going to take a little bit of time to get that document together to submit. It’s done all electronic, you can’t go to a bank, you can’t go to a banker,” continued Horne.
That’s why the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and SCORE the small business mentor program are volunteering to help you plow through it all and hopefully get cash into the hands of the people who need it most, and do it by the quickly approaching November 1 deadline.
“You can meet with me or SCORE to go through what’s in the application. A lot of tax documents, a lot of payroll documents, a lot of expenditures, invoices,” said Horne. “It is in that supporting document where the devil is going to be in the details or getting all that paperwork together and submitted by that November 1 deadline.”
Applying could mean grant money that doesn’t have to be paid back. money that could be a game-changer for folks like Thompson.
“It could be the difference between staying open or not staying open,” said Thompson. “That’s the bottom line.”
Here is the link with much of the information you will need as well as the link to the application:
Volunteers from the Chamber and SCORE will also be at the Chamber office on William Hilton Parkway from 10 am-Noon all week for in-person help.
You can also call their office for advice or more information.