Savannah mayor believes changes could help businesses during expected second round of CARES Act funding

Savannah mayor believes changes could help businesses during expected second round of CARES Act funding

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah Mayor Van Johnson discussed how small businesses are benefiting from CARES Act funds during his weekly COVID-19 report.

According to Mayor Johnson, of the $2 million in CARES Act funding being distributed by the Savannah Small Business Assistance Corporation (SBAC), $1.6 million went to loan forgiveness, the rest went to applying businesses for COVID-related costs. The money was distributed in just a few hours, and 42 Savannah businesses in all were helped on this first round.

But Mayor Johnson says the reach of the CARES Act funding could’ve been better.

“Most of these funds were distributed for COVID loan forgiveness, which meant that businesses that did not have the benefit or the opportunity to be able to secure a loan, did not receive the best assistance that we can give,” Mayor Johnson said.

The mayor said he believes the process can be more intentional and explained how he’s proposing an anticipated second round of CARES Act funding be distributed.

Mayor Johnson listed four categories for allocation.

The first, is for Community Development Block Grant distressed area businesses, to better help neighborhood businesses.

The second category is for small businesses with five or less employees.

Third, the mayor says is for minority-owned businesses, and general businesses will go in the fourth category.

According to the SBAC, the CARES Act funding is a grant, meaning it doesn’t have to be paid back. But businesses must account for all that’s spent to prove they used it for COVID-related expenses, like PPE supplies, payroll and mortgage or rent costs.

Businesses awarded funding in the first round will also not be allowed to apply for the CARES Act dollars in the second round from the SBAC.

Mayor Van Johnson says he expects the city to receive around $8.5 million during the second round of CARES Act funding.

Mayor Johnson wants to use over $3.5 million to help businesses. He is also proposing limiting how much a business can receive to $20,000. He says this will allow the city to spread out the money to more businesses.

There’s no exact date on when the second round of funds will become available. The Mayor expects the money to come near the end of September.

Businesses can start applying Sept. 1.

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