Nebraska offers more grants for businesses hit by pandemic

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 2:40 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska will reopen a series of federally funded grant programs to help small businesses and nonprofits that are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday.

Nebraska still has $160 million available from the $1 billion it received under the federal CARES Act, the package designed to soften the pandemic’s impact on the economy. The state will accept applications for assistance from 10 a.m. Wednesday until Nov. 13 on a first-come, first-served basis.

The newest round of grants will include aid targeting some of the hardest-hit businesses, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, tattoo parlors, zoos, event centers and ethanol plants that lost business because of reduced travel and gasoline usage.

“In every area where you see a separate line item, there was an additional need,” Ricketts said at a news conference to announce the grant funding.

Nebraska will provide up to $12,000 for restaurants, bars and tattoo parlors that can show they were hurt by the pandemic. Hotels and convention centers could each qualify for up to $500,000, depending on their size. Restaurants qualified for the same amount when the state awarded its first round of assistance earlier in July.

Ricketts said restaurants that didn’t get a first-round grant could be eligible for $24,000. He said some eligible businesses didn’t apply for the initial funding because they didn’t know about it or didn’t think they qualified.

State officials have also set aside $11 million for food banks, $2.5 million for licensed child care providers and $3.3 million to help renters who are at risk of eviction.

Dannette Smith, CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said charitable groups that qualify will receive at least $12,000 each. She said her agency will focus on the hardest-hit areas of the state, as measured by the number of virus cases per capita. Groups that received aid in July aren’t eligible this time, except assisted-living facilities and long-term facilities.

“These are two providers that we know have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic,” Smith said.

The announcement comes as Nebraska sees a surge in coronavirus cases that has led to a record number of hospitalizations. The state now has the nation’s fifth-highest rate of new infections.

A record 343 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 after Nebraska reported 734 new cases of the virus Sunday, giving the state 58,068 cases since the pandemic began. State officials have linked 548 deaths to the virus.

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