Hundreds apply for borough CARES program

Jul 31, 2020

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s CARES Act grant program closed for applications last Friday, with hundreds of businesses and nonprofits seeking aid.

The borough received 632 completed applications, with 40 being nonprofits. Borough community and fiscal projects manager Brenda Ahlberg says there were another 176 applications started but not finished—maybe because the applicant realized they didn’t qualify, or maybe they just forgot to hit the submit button.

The borough has $15 million available in funding as relief from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic for businesses and nonprofits outside city limits. The borough finance department estimated in June that there were about 2,300 businesses that operate outside city limits in the borough.

In order to qualify, businesses had to be in good tax standing with the borough, make more than $20,000 in annual gross revenue in 2019, have been in business since at least Jan. 1, 2020, have an. active business license. C-corps, nationally owned chains, businesses without a physical presence, and marijuana businesses were ineligible. Nonprofit rules were a little different, but had to be in business since at least January 1, 2019, be in good standing with the state, and have a physical presence outside city limits.

The grant amounts will be based on gross revenues, starting at up to $1,750 and ranging up to $35,000. The amounts also depend on how many applications the borough received—if it got too many, the amounts could be smaller.

This grant program comes out of the first of three installments the borough will receive. The first installment was about $21.3 million. In addition to the $15 million relief program, the borough plans to use some of the rest of that payment for public projects that would help mitigate the impact of the pandemic, including improving internet infrastructure, improving the absentee-by-mail voting option in the borough, and setting up an additional location for emergency response dispatchers. The next two payments to the borough are smaller—about $8 million each, and will be paid once the borough gets 80 percent of the first payment out the door. All of the funds have to be spent by December 30.

Ahlberg says the borough will be providing information on its website, CARES.kpb.us, during the grant review process and hopes to get checks out by mid-August.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@kdll.org.