The Johnson County Commissioners Court, during a Thursday called meeting, approved allocation of $500,000 in relief grants for Johnson County unincorporated area businesses struggling in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The plan, Commissioner Jerry Stringer said, is to award 100 $5,000 grants.

“There are more businesses out in the unincorporated areas of the county than you’d think,” Stringer said. “I drove around the other day and counted quite a few. We’re doing this for unincorporated parts of the county only. Burleson, Cleburne and some of the other cities have their own programs for businesses in their towns.”

Funding derives from the $4 million in CARES Act grants the county received to cover reimbursement of various COVID-19 costs encountered. Some of that money, Stringer said, may be used for payroll costs and/or small business grants.

“I thought it was one thing we could do for our small businesses,” Stringer said. “The virus is worldwide but it was local governments who shut things down. I’m not a liberal-spending Democrat, but we helped create this program by shutting down. I talked to some of the other counties who are doing this and it seems to be working well in those places. 

“So I brought it to court Thursday and it was well received by everyone else. $5,000 isn’t a lot, but at least it’s something to help out 100 of our businesses. The government didn’t cause COVID but government actions taken did cause financial strains on a lot of businesses so I think this is an excellent use of these grant funds.”

Commissioner Larry Woolley agreed.

“I see this as a great opportunity for some of our small businesses out in the county who maybe were not able to get assistance through any other avenues to get some help whether they were classified as essential or non-essential,” Woolley said. “It’s not county money, it’s federal money, but we’re excited to be able to create the avenue to help get some of our local businesses to where they need to go for help.”

The target is mom-and-pop shops, Stringer said, and businesses with a dedicated location.

“Temporary businesses like snow cone or fireworks stands aren’t eligible,” Stringer said. “We discussed requiring having a storefront location as opposed to businesses out of a home, but decided that a lot of people do make their primary living out of their home. That doesn’t mean, however, someone who goes around to garage sales to put stuff on eBay as a side business or things like that.”

The application deadline for the Johnson County Small Business Recovery Grant is Aug. 15. Applications are available at johnsoncountytx.org. 

“The applications will go through the Johnson County Economic Development boar and then come back to commissioners court for approval,” Stinger said. 

County Judge Roger Harmon encouraged county businesses in need to apply.

“It’s not a lot of money but it will help some of these businesses who had to shut down temporarily and had a hard time surviving because of that. We’re just trying to help the people who didn’t get any other help through this program.”

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