The Mississippi Legislature worked late into Wednesday night and passed a $300 million small business relief bill using federal funds provided to deal with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two chambers came to an agreement on Senate Bill 2772, which provides grants from federal funds administered by the Mississippi Development Authority. The state received $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March by Congress.
The plan was originally supposed to only provide $100 million, but the Legislature decided to appropriate more money in line with what other states are doing. The plan passed 116-1 in the House and 42-2 in the Senate. Gov. Tate Reeves will likely sign the bill once it reaches his desk.
Each small business eligible under the plan will receive a one-time grant payment of $2,000. Those firms not seeking to itemize their COVID-19 related costs can receive a base payment of $1,500 plus $500 for each full-time employee.
Some of the provisions of the Back to Business Mississippi Grant program include:
- The dates for which small businesses would be eligible for federal relief would be March 1 to December 30.
- Businesses eligible for federal relief include non-profit corporations, limited liability corporations and partnerships or sole proprietorships. An eligible non-profit’s net worth can’t exceed $500,000 and an eligible business or non-profit would need to be in good standing with the Secretary of State’s office.
- The business would have to be owned by at least one Mississippi resident and would’ve had to file state taxes for either the 2018 or 2019 tax years or plans to file in 2020.
- The business would be required to have employees working at a physical location in the state to be eligible and have fewer than 50 employees.
- The grants would be awarded first by the MDA to eligible businesses that were forced to close because of the economic shutdown and haven’t received any funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- Applications would require supporting documentation and sworn statements, opening up any business owner who tries to defraud the system to possible perjury charges.
- Grants will be subject to audits from the state treasurer and auditor and won’t be considered taxable income.
- Any leftover money in the specific Back to Business grant fund that will be created by the Legislature could be shifted to other eligible purposes by the governor on November 1.
The CARES Act provides $2.2 trillion for individuals and businesses to help in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.