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Small Alta. businesses can apply for provincial grant to offset COVID losses


More small- and medium-sized businesses in Alberta will be able to apply for a provincial grant under a recently extended program.

Applications for the small and medium enterprise (SME) relaunch grant were due last week but a second round of applications will now be available until March 31, according to the Alberta government.

“A lot of our small- and medium-sized businesses have taken advantage of (the grant),” said Larry Gibson, Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce chairperson.

Gibson said the chamber has heard from approximately a half-dozen businesses that have applied since the program was introduced in June, including a couple near Clairmont.

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The SME relaunch grant benefits businesses, co-operatives and non-profits that have experienced significant revenue loss during the pandemic.

The SME grant is for 15 per cent of the business’ pre-COVID monthly revenue, or a maximum of $5,000, said Justin Brattinga, jobs, economy and innovation department press secretary.

“Five thousand dollars doesn’t go far these days, but it is a helpful program when you’re looking at added expenses,” Gibson said.

“Most of the (local businesses) are using the grant to offset some of the extra costs, in plexiglass shields, the masks and sanitization.”

Gibson said Grande Prairie-area businesses that have shown interest in the grant represent a variety of sectors, including retail, small manufacturing organizations and the restaurant and hospitality industries.

To qualify, a business must have fewer than 500 employees and be affected by provincial restrictions, or have revenue losses of 40 per cent, according to the Alberta government.

Initially, the SME grant required the business to have revenue losses of 50 per cent, a threshold lowered to 40 per cent retroactively to March, Brattinga said.

The lowered threshold will enable thousands of more businesses across the province to benefit, he said.

The chamber observed many small- and medium-sized businesses experience losses in the range of 40 and 50 per cent between April and May, Gibson said.

The new funding is available to businesses in enhanced-status areas of the province, such as the city and county of Grande Prairie and the municipalities within the county.

News from © The Canadian Press Enterprises 2020