Mobile City Council discusses emergency grant program for some small businesses

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — On Friday, May 1, Mobile’s City Council began discussions on a creating an emergency grant program providing half of a million dollars to businesses impacted by Governor Kay Ivey’s safer at home order, but that have not received any help.

While the whole council agrees small businesses need help, it’s the wording of the program making some members pause.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said, “You know $500 per employee is how the conversation started.”

Mayor Stimpson said qualifying businesses could receive between $1,500 and $2,500. He said, “We’re hoping that you know in the next couple of weeks that the governor is going to allow barber shops and hair salons to go back to work. This was only a hold over to try to get them to that point in time, so that they didn’t feel like they had to defy the governor’s order and open up.”

The money would not necessarily go to employees. One check per business would go to employers. Mayor Stimpson said he hopes they would share with their employees, but council members worry that may not happen.

Councilwoman Bess Rich said, “We might have in our mind, but if it’s not written out, then whoever gets the check could technically keep it and that’s not our goal, especially because the amount changes based on how many people you have employed.”

Council members said there are several tweaks still needing to be made to the program.

Money for the grant would come from the city’s general fund. Currently, the city says for businesses to qualify, they must not have received any other assistance, have a current business license, and operate within the City of Mobile.

Mayor Stimpson said the City has a list of these businesses, and when the website launches on Tuesday, May 5, the City will call store owners so they can apply. He said, “So on the following Tuesday the 12, you know at 12 o’clock, when they say we have approved this, theoretically we could tell the folks in accounting hit the button let that money go out.”

The City must first hold a public meeting prior to voting on the emergency grant program. The meeting is set for Tuesday, May 12, and a vote could take place immediately after.

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