BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – The town of Bluffton is offering grants of up to $20,000 to local small businesses.

The town council recently established the Small Business Assistance Grant Fund, made possible with federal funding, to help businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“The town’s business community is a major artery which pumps life into our town,” Mayor Lisa Sulka stated. “It is a priority to use a portion of the federal funds given to the town, through the American Recovery Plan Act, to ensure our small businesses continue to thrive.

“Each of them contributes to our community’s collective economic propensity and it is important to each town council member to help these businesses through an unpredictable global hardship.”

Town officials said applications will be accepted now through Monday, May 9, at

The town’s Don Ryan Center for Innovation will administer the grant program through an advisory committee, which will review and recommend grants based on a number of guidelines.

No later than June 30, 2022, will funding be distributed, officials said.

Grant criteria

A Bluffton business is eligible for funding if:

  • The business employed fewer than 50 full-time employees on March 1, 2020.
  • The business is a small, for-profit business as defined in Section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632); independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field of operation, meaning it does not exercise a controlling or major influence in a kind of business activity in which a number of businesses are engaged.
  • The business is currently and has been in business since at least March 1, 2020.
  • The physical place of business is located within the boundaries of the Town of Bluffton, South Carolina.
  • The business had a valid business license as of March 1, 2020, and has a current business license in the Town of Bluffton at the time of their application for this grant.
  • The business suffered from business interruption caused by the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • The business suffered economic loss (excluding loss covered by insurance or reimbursed by a federal, state, or local program) and has paid eligible expenses for costs incurred from March 3, 2021, to March 1, 2022. Such loss was demonstrated by one or more of the following indicators of economic loss because of the response to the COVID 19 public health emergency:
    • Decreased revenue or gross receipts (because of closures due to mandates or staffing shortages caused by COVID-19)
    • Increased costs (in response to the COVID-19 health and safety measures)
    • Reduced capacity to weather financial hardship (diminished capital reserves)

Eligible expenses

Business operation:

  • Employee payroll
  • Rent
  • Scheduled mortgage payments
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Marketing
  • Loss of product/stock as it relates to product/stock expiration or spoilage

Business Redesign for Mitigation of COVID spread:

  • Reconfiguring physical space
  • Installing plexiglass barriers
  • Purchasing web-conferencing or other technology to facilitate work-at-home
  • PPE and other COVID-related safety measures for employees and customers
  • COVID Specific Disinfection/Cleaning above and beyond regular cleaning disinfection
  • Structures necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

Business Planning Services:

  • Technical assistance
  • Business incubation services
  • Business strategy/planning services to support expansion during and post pandemic recovery

Required documentation

  • IRS Forms 941/940 (2019/2020/2021)
  • Tax Returns (2019/2020/2021)
  • Profit & Loss Statements (2019/2020/2021)
  • W-9
  • Eligible Expenses Backup (i.e., payroll reports, invoices, quotes etc.)
  • Balance Sheets (2019, 2020, 2021)
  • Approval/Award Documentation for any of the following:
    • SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan
    • Shuttered Venues Grant (SVOG)
    • Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF)
    • SBA Debt Relief