LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Commerce are launching the Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program to oversee distribution of federal funds coming to state companies through the CARES ACT, the Governor announced at a news conference today. Following an approval from the Governor’s CARES Act Steering Committee, the Arkansas legislature approved $55-million in funding for the program.
The grants are intended to help cover COVID-19-related costs of ensuring the health and safety of employees and patrons at Arkansas companies, which may apply for the direct payments through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), a commission within the the Department of Commerce.
“As we begin to lift some of the restrictions for businesses in the coming weeks, it is important that both employees and consumers feel confident that their is safety is our top priority,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This grant program will be a helpful resource for business owners to get back on their feet and will provide the assistance they need to ensure the highest health and safety standards for their employees and customers.”
Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Commerce Mike Preston joined Governor Hutchinson for today’s announcement of the Ready for Business Grant Program.
“We know that in these trying times, Arkansas employers are eager to return to normal but must do so in a safe and responsible manner protecting their employees, customers and their business,” Secretary Preston said. “This grant program provides employers with a resource that will assist them in the cost of reopening and operating in a way that meets new health guidelines, which will ensure confidence in their employees and their customers. I encourage all eligible organizations to apply.”
With approval by the Arkansas legislature, businesses in every industry sector may be eligible for a Ready for Business grant. Of the $55-million, at least 75 percent will be funded to businesses with less than 50 employees and at least 15 percent of the recipients will be minority and women owned businesses.
Qualifying businesses may be awarded a grant for expenditures such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and no-contact thermometers for employees and customers; no-contact Point of Sale (POS) payment equipment; cleaning supplies and disinfectants; hand sanitizer stations; restocking necessary supplies and raw materials; expenses associated with reconfiguring business to meet recommended health and safety guidelines, signage, and marketing; and other one-time expenses associated with reopening or resuming normal operations.
AEDC will begin accepting Ready for Business Grant applications this Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00am until 6:00pm.
AEDC initially launched the Arkansas Ready For Business grant program last Wednesday with over 2300 applications submitted in one hour. Applicants who successfully applied do not have to reapply.
Visit https://www.arkansasedc.com/covid19 to learn information about the grant program guidelines and to apply.