Missoula County awards COVID job retention grants
January 7, 2021
MISSOULA COUNTY –
Missoula County Commissioners approved distributing almost $625,000 from the COVID-19 Small Business Job Retention Fund to 27 businesses impacted by the pandemic. The funding is intended to help businesses retain jobs for low- and moderate-income employees.
Of the awarded grants, 58% went to food and drink industry businesses for a total of $365,000. Retailers received 12%, professional services got 10%, preschool and childcare employers received 10%, transportation services received 6% and lodgers received the last 4%. All but one of the recipients, a hotel in Lolo, operate in downtown Missoula.
On average the recipients saw a 45% decline in revenue since the pandemic's beginning resulting in a total of 158 employees being laid off. Without this grant funding, another 166 layoffs were projected for the first three months of 2021.
In a press release, Melissa Gordon, program manager for Grants and Community Programs, described the demand for the funds as "overwhelming."
"While the county isn't able to provide assistance to every business in need, I am hopeful the program will provide the support necessary for grant recipients to retain employment opportunities and stay afloat until the new federal assistance becomes available," Gordon said.
The application process opened at 9 a.m. Dec. 10. Applications were considered and accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The first applicant to receive funding submitted their application at 9:18 a.m. The last application to be funded was received at 10:54 a.m.
In total, 126 applications were submitted to the county collectively requesting $2.875 million. Of the applicants, all had a Missoula address except four businesses were from Lolo, one from Frenchtown, one from Seeley Lake and one whose address could not be found.
The grants are supported through the Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund.