The program, dubbed Wilco Forward, will start with a first phase of $25 million to be given to small businesses within Williamson County based on certain criteria. After making a few minor amendments, the court will review the final documents before it is presumably finalized during its May 5 meeting.
County Treasurer Scott Heselymeyer, who was part of the committee to develop the parameters, said ideally the program could start accepting applicants sometime around May 6.
“The priority is taking care of our small businesses and is taking care of them as quickly as possible,” Heselmeyer said. “It is my opinion as your county treasurer that the best most efficient way to do that is for the county to roll out our overall small business grant program as soon as possible.”
Williamson County issued a “Stay Home Stay Safe” order March 24 which limited the size of mass gatherings and closed many business. It was lifted at 11:59 p.m. April 30.
The program will work solely on a first-come, first-served basis, where small business owners will be able to fill out the application on the county website. The county auditor department will ensure applications are filled out correctly and if so, distribute checks to businesses, officials said.
The county received $93 million on April 23 from the federal coronavirus relief bill. Depending on if or when the program funding is depleted, the court will reconvene and decide whether to add more money or not, officials said.
A specific date on when the application will go live has not been set, as the county’s technology department is still developing the online applications, officials said.
The criteria and parameters are as follows:
- The maximum grant per business is $30,000.
- For-profit and nonprofit businesses headquartered in Williamson County can qualify.
- The recipient needs to be a sole proprietor or a small business with 100 or fewer full time equivalent employees.
- The businesses are expected to maintain consistent total FTEs during the program.
- Funding must be used between March 27 and Sept. 30.
- Businesses must have opened by Feb. 15.
The program will also be set up into two tiers.
The first tier is similar to the federal Paycheck Protection Program where businesses will calculate their monthly payroll costs. Those with employees can receive one month of average payroll costs, or sole proprietors who do not have payroll could receive one month of net income based on the average income in the 2019 calendar year.
The second tier will be a fixed-cost option where owners can calculate their rent, lease or mortgage payments, property taxes and utility costs and receive a single installment of two times the total fixed cost.
Businesses who were completely closed due to COVID-19 are eligible for 100% of the calculated grant amount. Business that were partially opened are eligible for 75% of the calculated grant amount. And, businesses who were significantly affected are eligible for 50% of the calculated grant amount, Heselmeyer said.
The deadline for phase one will be June 30, Heselmeyer said.
“The businesses that got nothing so far and really need the help after being shut down for over a month, I want to make sure those are taken care of," Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said.
This is a developing story. More details will be provided as the county finalizes the program.