To aid Leander's small businesses negatively affected by the coronavirus, Leander City Council unanimously approved an emergency grant program April 8.

The COVID-19 Emergency Grant Program will benefit small businesses affected financially by the coronavirus. The program will aid approved businesses with payments for payroll, leases, mortgages, utilities, and critical business equipment or supplies.

According to the program, businesses with gross receipts below $150,000 in the past year will receive a $1,500 grant, and businesses with greater gross receipts will receive $3,000. The program is funded with $208,000 from the Old Town Grant Program.

The city will release finalized application forms and additional information on April 13.

Evan Milliorn, a city economic development managing partner, said a business could receive funds in less than a week if a grant is approved.

“We want to provide an immediate response,” Milliorn said. “We don’t want to drag out funding here over the course of months.”

Preference is given to nonessential businesses and businesses whose operations are restricted under state and local orders, Milliorn said. Businesses can receive one grant per funding period.

Each business must meet all guidelines within the ordinance. Milliorn said the program expires May 1. Then, the city may explore a second phase of financial aid to small businesses.

City staff will examine the grant applications and present qualifying applications to City Council for final approval.

“The intent of the vetting process is to see how we can provide an immediate help to those affected,” Milliorn said.

At the meeting, City Council members discussed reviewing the applications anonymously as to only judge the business based on merit rather than name.

“It will get the money to those who need it most, I think, in a very fair manner,” Council Member Michelle Stephenson said.

At the meeting, the economic development managing partners, Milliorn and Cameron Goodman, presented a city-conducted, self-reported survey about coronavirus effects on small businesses. The survey collected information from 100 local businesses, including 72 Leander businesses.

Of the businesses, 67% reported decreased revenue compared to March 2019 revenue, according to survey data.

Aside from the city’s grants, Milliorn said the department has put together a list of resources for small-business owners.

Leander City Council met by teleconference April 9 after the regular April 2 meeting was canceled due to technical issues. City Council will meet again April 16 via teleconference for a regularly scheduled meeting.