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Money for MT businesses available NOW, other states to follow suit

Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced last week that the state will begin doling out $123 million to help Montana businesses, nonprofits and individuals get back on their feet. The money comes from the multi-trillion-dollar CARES Act passed by Congress last month.

The state funds are given in grants including emergency stabilization and innovation grants for both businesses and nonprofits. Also included in the funding pool is money for health care centers, emergency housing, public health, telework assistance food bank funds and grants to serve seniors and those living with a disability. 

“Montanans have made it clear it’s imperative that we step in and do everything possible to ensure small businesses can responsibly reopen, non-profits continue to serve our vibrant communities, homeowners can stay in their homes, and Montanans most in-need have access to services,” Bullock said last week. “We’re all in this together and I know Montana will emerge from this challenge even stronger than before.”

The following is a quick glimpse of the new business and nonprofit grants available through the state of Montana. Apply today at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV, the portal is open!

  • The Montana Business Stabilization Grant program provides working capital for Montana-owned small businesses with 50 or fewer employees that have lost of revenue due to COVID 19. Current funding available is $50 million, the maximum award amount per business is $10,000.  
  • The Montana Innovation Grant program helps companies scale up, improve capabilities, or drive expanded distribution of products or services developed in response to COVID-19. Montana non-profit and for-profit businesses of less than 150 employees that have created an innovative product or service intended to directly confront the COVID-19 emergency are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $25,000. Current funding available is $5 million.
  • Montana Food and Agriculture Adaptability Program grants are available to food and ag businesses to help increase community resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of applicable projects include those focused on accessing new markets, projects which strengthen and expand local food systems, and other business adaptations that decrease food and agricultural waste. Current funding available is $500,000, with a maximum grant award of $10,000.
  • Public Health Grants are available to local and tribal health departments to help in the response to COVID-19 and to meet the needs of their communities. Current funding available is $5 million.
  • Food Bank and Food Pantry Assistance of up to $50,000 per applicant is available to increase food security for Montanans hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible applicants include community organizations providing food assistance to Montanans with limited resources, food banks, food pantries, community cupboards, and entities with infrastructure already in place to begin new food distribution programs. Current funding available is $2 million.
  • Social Services Nonprofit Grants of up to $10,000 per applicant are available for nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 to retain existing programs and services, employees, or organizational viability for future services and operations. Eligible applicants are Montana-based social service nonprofits that were operating prior to February 15, 2020. Current funding available is $10 million.
  • Telework Assistance Grants of up to $1,000 per individual to help purchase equipment for Montanans with disabilities to access telework equipment. DPHHS will partner with a local non-profit organization to assess and support assistive technology needs of individuals with disabilities during COVID-19. 

A comprehensive information resource and application portal is available at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV. Make sure you have the following information before you apply:

Business name, address, phone number, email and website (if you have one).
You’ll also need your business EIN or personal social security number, proof of good standing with the Montana Secretary of State’s Office, copy of your driver’s license or state I.D. card, the most recent copy of filed federal tax returns and a short explanation of the impacts of COVID-19 on your business.

In addition to SBA and state funding, now is the time for businesses to consider low interest borrowing options. Even if you need cash in a flash, it is important to read the fine print to ensure you won’t be charged exorbitant interest rates on payday loans or business credit cards. The Better Business Bureau NW+P recommends the following tips when borrowing money for your business:

  1. Meet (or establish a relationship) with your local lender. Ask about opening a line of credit backed by collateral (it’s a small biz loan with the flexibility of a credit card). A local bank can help you choose the right line of credit & help you understand repayment terms.
  • Don’t be lured by points or perks credit cards. A traditional credit card comes with hefty interest rates, whereas the line of credit gives you a stabilized low interest rate. Businesses have a hard time getting ahead with a credit card when the interest rates are in the double digits.
  • Beware the payday loan. Annual interest rates for payday loans can get up to 400 percent, making them quite risky for borrowers who might struggle to pay back the loan on time. Plus, payday loan companies often have aggressive collection tactics.

For more information about funding your business and re-opening safely, visit trust-bbb.org/coronavirus.

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Written by Hannah Stiff

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