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Dane County Board signs off on COVID-19 relief funds

Dane County Board signs off on COVID-19 relief funds

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On Thursday the Dane County Board of Supervisors authorized a $4 million contract with Dane Buy Local to support small businesses through the pandemic. In this Aug. 2020 photo, a server wears a mask as customers order drinks on the outdoor patio of Brothers Three Bar & Grill.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors adopted several measures Thursday aimed at helping small business owners and residents weather the financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Supervisors signed off on a $4 million contract with the Dane Buy Local Foundation for an emergency small business grant program. 

“Our local businesses are struggling,” Supervisor Kristen Audet, District 17, said in a statement.  “Providing these funds is critical to keep businesses open, and more importantly for our residents to be able to thrive and support their families.”  

Dane Buy Local will partner with the Latino Chamber of Commerce, Madison’s Black Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation to identify local businesses to receive the grants.

Eligible businesses will be for-profit, independently owned and have a main office based in Dane County. Grant funding will prioritize businesses such as restaurants, retail, gyms and fitness facilities, independent contractors, the service industry and start-up businesses.  

Businesses could receive, at minimum, $1,000 and the maximum grant amount is $50,000. Up to 3% of the total funding will support Dane Buy Local’s administrative costs.  

[Madison City Council selects agencies to distribute federal rent assistance funds]

This will be the second time the foundation is administering funds to local businesses struggling during the pandemic. During the first round of funding to Dane County last year through the CARES Act, Dane Buy Local oversaw a $10.6 million program that awarded funds to 2,692 local businesses.

Of that funding, 25% was distributed to business owners of color, and 57% to women business owners. Slightly more than half, 54.4%, of the businesses were located in the city with 46.5% located outside of it.  

According to the foundation’s data, 99% of grant awardees that received funding from the Dane County CARES program are still in business.

Additionally, the board adopted a resolution authorizing a contract with the Tenant Resource Center (TRC) to administer federal funds aimed at preventing eviction and promoting housing stability services. Dane County is expected to receive $8.5 million of the $25 billion in funding for Emergency Rental Assistance that the federal government approved last December. 

Last June, the TRC  administered over $10 million program to support the same goals, and the funding was exhausted in 12 weeks. 

“The pandemic has caused a surge in unemployment and housing insecurity,” Board Chair Analiese Eicher said in a statement. “These federal funds will help to keep a roof over the heads of many Dane County residents, some of whom have never faced such economic stress and the potential of eviction before.” 

Madison is set to receive about $7.5 million from the federal government to help prevent  evictions and promote housing stability among eligible households. The City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday authorizing up to 90% of the funds to the Tenant Resource Center with the rest allocated to designated community organizations. 

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi called the pair of adopted resolutions a “down payment” to addressing critical needs in the community as a result of COVID-19. 

“We have work to do as a community and country to bounce back from the wide-reaching impacts of this pandemic,” Parisi said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with our local, state, and federal partners to get relief out into the community as quickly and effectively as possible.”

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