City to match up to $50,000 for business relief grant fund
By Press Times Staff
DE PERE – The common council agreed Tuesday, April 21, to provide up to a $50,000 match to Downtown De Pere’s fundraising effort with the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant Fund.
Downtown De Pere is seeking to provide financial help to businesses in the Downtown De Pere Business Improvement District deemed non-essential by the state’s Safer at Home order and able to show they were negatively affected by the pandemic.
Those eligible businesses, which must be locally owned and established prior to March 9 with less than 20 full-time employees and a physical storefront or location in the district, could apply for a grant of up to $2,500.
Tina Quigley, Downtown De Pere executive director, told the council the organization so far had raised around $10,000 for the relief grant fund.
Under the criteria put together by Downtown De Pere, those funds could be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments and utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of operations.
Those funds could not be used to reimburse expenses incurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, pay off non-business or personal debt, or for construction and/or physical property improvements.
Because Definitely De Pere’s program only applies in the city’s downtown area, Alderman Dean Raasch said he favored a grant program that would assist small businesses throughout De Pere.
“I’m just wondering how do we support these other small businesses who are in a very similar situation that don’t reside with inside that corridor…,” Raasch said.
City Administrator Larry Delo said the Chamber of Commerce in De Pere has been looking into doing a fundraising campaign similar to Downtown De Pere, but could apply to businesses citywide.
“If the De Pere Chamber or some other group came in and were doing a similar type of program that they wanted the city to then match, then you would have the same apples-to-apples program for those businesses within the city that are not in the downtown and are currently not eligible for this particular (Downtown De Pere) program,” Delo said.
With no specific citywide grant program proposed, the council agreed to consider the matter as a future agenda item.