Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Claire Muller
Executive Director, Seeley Lake Community Foundation 

The landscape of COVID-19 relief

 


Did you know the CARES Act allocated $1.25 billion just to Montana? This is IN ADDITION TO other funding Montanans have access to, like the SBA money (including the PPP and EIDL), unemployment money (including new availability for sole proprietors and independent contractors, plus $600/week extra for all) and the $1200 stimulus checks to individuals!

And, did you know that Montana’s $1.25 billion in COVID-19 funding must be spent by the end of the calendar year? That’s great news during this stressful time, because this means more money will become unlocked before the end of 2020.

In early May, applications opened for the first round of Montana’s funding ($123 million, or about the first 10%) across nine grant programs, helping businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Then, on June 1st, a new grant opportunity opened: The Montana Business Adaptation Program will provide up to $5,000 reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses related to keeping staff and customers safe. Info at: https://commerce.mt.gov/Coronavirus-Relief

We know that some were able to jump right on these opportunities and some have been reluctant or unable to because of unknowns, roadblocks or fears of doing something wrong and having to pay money back. It’s a lot to navigate! It can be hard to ask for help, and sometimes it can be awkward to talk about finances in a small town. But we want to see people in this community breathing deep sighs of relief, not just tightening belts and having a lingering anxiety fluttering in their chests.

The Seeley Lake Community Foundation has been stepping in to help where we can to support the Seeley Lake area in weathering this crisis. So far, we’ve helped business owners apply for grants and build Excel spreadsheets to keep track of their new grant expenditures, we’ve helped people see they actually qualify for thousands of dollars more than they thought, we’ve helped sole proprietors navigate how to get help from unemployment and more. We’ve also asked some partner groups to create a webinar for what to do if you haven’t filed taxes in several years and so can’t apply for all the COVID relief money that’s available. For support or questions, call the SLCF at 677-3506. Come lean on us! For the best resources we’ve collected so far, visit: http://www.seeleylakecommunityfoundation.org. We’re also posting time-sensitive opportunities on our Facebook page.

There is still money available under the SBA’s Payroll Protection Program, and this potentially forgivable loan is now also available for sole proprietors, LLCs and independent contractors.

Also noteworthy, one of the major recommendations from the Governor’s Coronavirus Relief Fund Advisory Council on how to best allocate Montana’s $1.25 billion was a “Tourism and Hospitality Jumpstart.” So, we anticipate that an opportunity for relief for tourism-centric businesses will probably be on the horizon soon.

All of this money is a welcome bit of breathing room but the support of everyone will be crucial to help our businesses, nonprofits and individuals in need weather this storm as our community moves through this crisis together.

 

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