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Nye County small businesses may be eligible for millions in pandemic-relief funds

Updated October 12, 2022 - 7:57 am

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, Congress took action in an effort to ease the strain felt by communities all around the country, issuing a first round of funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act and then a second through the American Rescue Plan Act, better known as ARPA.

Nye County received more than $8 million from the CARES Act, which it then used to create two separate community grant programs that allowed local residents to apply for funding for their rent, utilities and small business operations, as well as providing funds for grants to nonprofit organizations. While the intent was good, the execution of the county’s first two grant programs left something to be desired, with many businesses unable to comply with the terms of the grants.

Now that the county has received another $9 million from ARPA, it was time for county staff to establish yet another COVID grant program, and they learned some valuable lessons from their previous experiences. There are a few key differences this time around, the biggest of which is exactly when grant payments are made to small business applicants.

Rather than allowing businesses to apply, receive funding and then submit documentation detailing how that money was spent, the county is requiring businesses to submit their expenses first.

In the past, the county has had problems obtaining the necessary documents from some CARES Act and Nye County COVID Relief Program grant awardees. The new reimbursement style of distribution is hoped to streamline the program and ensure that any relief funding awarded from ARPA has the proper reporting to back it up.

The small business grant program has been allotted $2 million. It will have a 45-day application period, followed by 45 days for staff to review the applications. Any small business that has not received COVID funding in the past would be given priority, Nye County Comptroller Savannah Rucker explained, after which previous awardees would be considered, but only if they were able to successfully meet their previous grant requirements.

Once the first round of small business grants are completed, another application period of 45 days will open and the process will be repeated until the ARPA funds have been exhausted or the 2026 deadline has been reached.

Aside from the small business portion of the ARPA grant program, there will be a public rental, mortgage and utility assistance program, with priority given to low-income households at or below 80% of median household income. A total of $882,291 has been budgeted for this specific program.

A large chunk of Nye County’s ARPA funding has been earmarked for various projects, including the purchase of $175,000 in signage for the Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Service’s fire stations and an allotment of $2.4 million to help with the construction of a new community center, which could be used as a pandemic refuge facility in the future.

The county is also putting money toward other initiatives such as mental health, affordable housing, public homeless assistance and childcare options in the Tonopah area.

The ARPA grant applications are currently being drafted. Look for details regarding the opening of the application period in an upcoming edition of the Pahrump Valley Times.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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