Collin County’s four largest cities will return just under $11.6 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to the county to expand the Collin CARES Small Business Grant Program.

Collin County commissioners voted unanimously Oct. 5 to increase the budget for the program to more than $26 million through funds originally distributed to Frisco, McKinney, Allen and Plano for housing assistance. The previously approved $30 million budget for the county's housing assistance program was also reduced to $18.4 million on Oct. 5.

Businesses could apply for the grants through Sept. 25, and as of Sept. 30, applicants had requested more than $20 million.

“I talked to the four cities that are running the housing program,” County Administrator Bill Bilyeu said. “They all agreed to return money to the county to utilize for the small business grants.”

Frisco is returning $4.5 million of the funds, with Plano returning $3.5 million, McKinney returning just under $2.1 million and Allen returning $1.5 million.

“Frisco has a lump sum payment—they'll be able to write a check as soon as the amended interlocal [agreement] is approved,” Bilyeu said. “Then the rest [of the cities] are drawing back from the nonprofits.”

Bilyeu said grant payments are likely to be distributed to qualifying businesses during the first or second week of November.

Commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 24 to utilize $15 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act for the small business grants program. The federal funds sent more than $171 million in federal aid to Collin County to help provide relief for family and government costs incurred from March 1 through the end of the year.

The Collin CARES Small Business Grant Program provides up to $25,000 for qualifying companies that had gross revenue losses of more than 15% because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses eligible for the county’s small business grant program included those with less than $5 million in gross revenues and fewer than 100 full-time employees. To qualify, businesses also must have continuously operated within Collin County for the six months prior to March 1, 2020.

Eligible expenses include:

• Payroll;

• Fixed overhead costs, such as rent;

• Utilities;

• Contract labor;

• Supplier/material payments, and

• COVID-19 related business improvements, such as personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies and equipment.

Commissioners adopted the Collin CARES recovery plan May 11 with the goal of assisting families and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic.