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Some Covid-19 economic recovery programs see progress while others stagnate

Wednesday, July 22, 2020 by Savana Dunning

While six of the city’s 11 Covid-19 economic recovery programs have received or are about to receive applications for their grants and loans, the rest have yet to move on from the development stages.

Austin’s economic recovery programs are designed to distribute CARES Act funds to specific groups in need of financial assistance during the pandemic. The Economic Development Department is in charge of giving City Council a progress report every two weeks, following a five-step plan from development to deployment of funds to analysis of program effectiveness.

The new memo released Friday now includes updates on three more programs: the Economic Injury Bridge Loan Program, the Music Disaster Relief Fund and the Creative Space Disaster Relief Program, along with updates for the programs mentioned in the previous update.

The memo from two weeks ago featured eight assistance programs, all of which had yet to open, and five of which had not yet moved past phase one, the development stage that outlines program guidelines and administration.

None of the programs that were in phase one two weeks ago have moved to the next stage, including the Creative Sector Relief Grant, Commercial Landlord Relief Grant, Workforce Development Relief Program, Technical Assistance Program, and Worker and Customer Safety Program. The Creative Sector Relief Grant will move to phase two in the coming days, as it still needs to draft final guidelines and interview third-party administrators.

The two largest relief programs, the Small Business Relief Grant (formerly the CLEAR fund) and the Nonprofit Relief Grant Program (formerly the ANCHOR fund) have moved from phase three to phase four, with applications open until July 24. So far, the $16.5 million program to help small businesses has received 1,044 applications for approximately $29.5 million in requested funds. The $6.35 million Nonprofit Relief program has received 29 applicants requesting $480,000 in total, mostly from arts- and culture-related nonprofits.

The Childcare Provider Relief Grant has also moved to phase four, with applications opened Tuesday. Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and the award amounts will be based on a number of factors, including Texas Rising Star rating, National Accreditation and the number of children receiving child care subsidies.

The three relief programs not mentioned in the memo two weeks ago, the Economic Injury Bridge Loan Program, the Music Disaster Relief Fund and the Creative Space Disaster Relief Program, have all closed applications and started deploying funds to applicants.

The Economic Injury Bridge Loan Program, which provides loans to support small businesses until they receive federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans, closed applications May 8. The EDD and loan review committee are reviewing the 150 eligible applicants, out of 1,117 inquiries. So far, 70 applicants have been approved for a total of $2 million in loans, out of the available $5.6 million available.

The Music Disaster Relief Fund closed its applications June 26 and has approved 725 applicants for $1,000 grants. The grants are designed to support performing musicians who are not aided by another relief program. Ninety-five unapproved applicants were deemed ineligible, 55 of which were denied because they had already received aid from the MusiCares Foundation. The rest of the $1.5 million assigned to this fund will go toward a second round of grants.

The Creative Space Disaster Relief Program is currently processing the 65 applications it received prior to its June 17 deadline, totaling $2.7 million in requested funds from the available $1 million.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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