Copperas Cove EDC board approves $110,000 business grant program
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Small businesses in Copperas Cove have been hit hard due to the pandemic, with some still remaining closed and still having bills to pay and jobs to save.
The Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation hopes to help those businesses with a new program called the CCEDC Cares for Community Businesses.
The CCEDC board of directors adopted a resolution to fund CCEDC Cares for Community Businesses during a special meeting held by teleconference Friday afternoon. The resolution allows for the program to be used as a marketing tool for economic development and amends the FY2020 adopted budget by adding $110,000 to be used.
The CCEDC Cares for Community Business program will assist the EDC and partnering businesses in Copperas Cove to become promotional partners.
After the board of directors’ approval Friday, the item moves to the city council to be voted on. The Copperas Cove city council is holding a special meeting at noon, Thursday, April 30, which the public may address by calling (888) 475-4499 and use meeting ID: 986 602 9818.
Pending council’s approval, the EDC will launch the program and begin accepting applications and the process of scoring each application to award funds. Applications may be accessed at www.coveedc.com.
To be eligible for the program, the business must be located in the city limits of Copperas Cove and have been in business as of January 1, 2020.
Retail businesses with more than 50 employees are not eligible. If a business continued to operate during the stay at home order, other than providing curbside service, they are not eligible for the program. Home based businesses are also not eligible; neither are national chains and franchises associated with the parent company.
The businesses must meet two of the four marketing requirements.
The marketing requirements include: a sponsored social media post on the business’ page for of 14 days that must also the post is in partnership with the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation; the purchase a 12”x18” poster to be displayed in the storefront for 90 days; the purchase a 4’x4’ sign to be displayed on the property of the business that has a message of “CCEDC Supports Local Business”, “CCEDC Cares for Community Business”, or “YOUR COMPANY Cares for Community Business” from a printing establishment located in Copperas Cove; or the business must purchase an approved ad from a local publication that is mailed to Copperas Cove residents. The ad must state “this ad is paid by the Copperas Cove EDC, a 4A Corporation”.
Any posters and/or signs must be purchased from a company within the city limits of Copperas Cove. Newspaper advertising must be in publications that have distribution in Copperas Cove.
Once the business owner completes the application, it will be reviewed by the EDC staff, who will verify all eligibility requirements are met. Then, staff and a committee will review and score applications, then begin distributing funds in the amount of $1,000, $3,000 or $5,000 to the applying and qualifying businesses.
Executive Director Jonas Titus explained how the idea came about.
“We’re really excited about this program because we think that it is an innovative approach to provide some support for local businesses that have been impacted by the stay at home orders,” Titus said. “And it’ll be a partnership with the EDC, and they’ll have options to choose from for local advertising so it’ll support local media and local printing shops and have ripple effects for the local economy and also provide some excess capital for them to help mitigate some of the effects of the pandemic.”
Titus said that when schools and businesses first started closing, the EDC was trying to stay on top of the problem and find ways to help.
“We first looked at all the traditional economic development tools at our disposal and a lot of those would be very, very difficult to utilize at a time like this,” Titus said. “They take multiple public meetings. A lot of them are crafted for tax relief for infrastructure, but that really didn’t serve the immediate needs of an immediate business closure that was basically, you know, these are effects that are beyond all of our control. These businesses were closed through no fault of any of the local business owners.”
Although the federal government took action with the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through the Small Business Administration, funds soon ran out. They have since been recapitalized, however.
The CCEDC became a “one stop shop” regarding the application process for these loans and how they work, Titus said.
“The system was just bogged down, so we started seeing a lot of local businesses were not getting the resources or the money that they needed,” Titus added.
He explained that he received an email from Copperas Cove Leader-Press publisher David Morris about a business grant program in the city of Burleson, the same day that EDC staff learned about a program in Georgetown. The EDC staff reached out to entities that had implemented the programs already and gained information to pass along to attorney to see how the Copperas Cove EDC could craft a similar program, Titus said. With their attorney’s approval, the EDC moved forward with their policy and called a special meeting.
“The one thing that we really, really want to stress is we are putting together guidelines and there are going to be people that fit in gray areas,” Titus said. “They won’t know whether they’re eligible or not but we’re encouraging anybody that has a question to go ahead and apply. We’re going to make the application process very, very quick and very easy.”
With the EDC being funded by 1/8-cent of Copperas Cove sales tax, section 504.105 of the Texas Local Government Code states that a 4A EDC can spend up to 10% of its revenue for “promotional purposes.”
The CCEDC’s revenue currently is approximately $1.4 million, and $30,000 so far has been spent on this year’s marketing efforts.