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The City Journals

South Valley Chamber to help Sandy businesses with city’s CARES funds

Jul 27, 2020 12:09PM ● By Justin Adams

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

In the coming months, the South Valley Chamber of Commerce will be using $125,000 worth of funds from the federal government (and awarded through Sandy City’s Community Block Grant Development program) to help Sandy businesses that are struggling as a result of COVID-19. 

The funds come from the CARES Act, the sweeping bill passed by congress this year to address the economic impacts of COVID-19. In addition to the $1,200 stimulus checks sent out to American families and the low-interest loans, the Act included about $5 billion for the Community Block Grant Development program, which is run through the Housing and Urban Development program. The program provides funding for local governments to “develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.”

As a qualifying city, Sandy receives a certain amount of CBGD funds each year. A resident committee reviews grant applications from local businesses and organizations and advises the city council on how to allocate the funds. Out of the $5 billion included in the CARES Act, Sandy’s CBGD program received $234,295. 

The city received grant requests from 12 local businesses and organizations, most of which they were able to fund. The biggest beneficiary though is the South Valley Chamber of Commerce, which will receive $125,000. 

A majority of those funds ($100,000) will go toward a small business loan/grant fund. The initial intention was for it to be a loan fund, but Chamber President Greg Summerhays says they’re now likely to make it a grant fund.

“While there has been some good funding out there for COVID, there are a lot of companies that haven’t qualified for it,” he said. Now, those companies will be able to submit applications to the chamber in the hopes of being awarded grants of up to $20,000 which Summerhays said can be used by the company to help them get through these difficult times.

Because funds come from the CBGD program, applicants will have to demonstrate that the funds will be used to positively impact moderate- and low-income Sandy residents.

While there are still some details to work out, Summerhays said he expects businesses should be able to start submitting applications for the grant in September. 

The remaining $20,000 heading to the Chamber will be used to fund a “Business Recovery Academy,” for 20 Sandy business owners to participate in. Summerhays described the academy as a 26-week mini-MBA program that helps business owners develop a customized three-year strategic plan to grow their company. It’s a national program and one that the Chamber has already been operating for years. Now, it will just be a little more targeted toward Sandy businesses that might be struggling as a result of the pandemic. 

Like the grant application, businesses hoping to enroll in the Business Recovery Academy will need to show that they positively impact low- to moderate-income Sandy residents. The Chamber will be accepting applications through the month of August, then the course will start in mid-to-late September. 

The South Valley Chamber has also been making other efforts to help local businesses navigate the last few months. They partnered with the City of Riverton to provide free face masks for businesses to provide to their customers, a program they’re hoping to duplicate in their other partner cities of Draper and Sandy. They’ve also held forums and information sessions with local business leaders, letting them know about the various opportunities available to them. That helped make Sandy the second largest city in the state when it comes to businesses receiving loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. 

“Sandy businesses did a really great job of applying for that money and receiving that help,” he said.