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City council approves COVID-19 relief grant for small businesses

The City of Lloydminster is implementing a relief grant to support small businesses affected by COVID-19.

The E-Commerce Support Grant will help up to 40 businesses within the city limits pay for costs associated with moving their business online. The city is dedicating $20,000 from the 2020 budget towards the grant. Mayor Gerald Aalbers says the funding for the grant comes from money previously reserved for cancelled events.

“Our Economic Development Team had plans for certain events and they did not come to fruition. They came back to council asking for a redirection of those funds. From a perspective, it’s not new money that’s being found or taken out of reserve, it’s an opportunity to ensure budgeted money is being put to good use.”

In order to be eligible for the grant, businesses must provide evidence of expenses dating March 16, 2020 or later, have a valid business license, have fewer than 50 employees, must not be a home-based business and has to be within the city limits.

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Businesses will be able to apply for a maximum of $500 to cover costs associated with creating an online presence such as setting up a website or utilizing online marketing. It is noted, if there are funds still available after the first round of applications, more applications will then be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

Aalbers says the grant provides the city an opportunity to show their support for the business community and adds that it may also help businesses who did not receive funding from provincial or federal COVID-19 relief programs.

At the September 21st Governance and Priorities Committee Meeting, city council debated whether the amount per application would truly be beneficial to one of the 1,600 businesses in Lloydminster. Councillor Stephanie Munro says she also questioned whether it would be enough, but became more in favour of the amount after speaking with members of the business community.

“When we’re looking at those smaller businesses we need to realize that $500 could go a long ways. I’ve heard from different business owners that website development or e-commerce platforms really do come under those $500 thresholds.”

Munro also requested city administration to keep track of the businesses accepted for the grant and how they use it then compile it into a report for future-use.

“It’s valuable information not only council, but for our residents to really see what the success rate is for a program such as this. There are other communities that are doing grant programming like this, whether it was COVID-related or pre-COVID, and I think there is value to seeing dollars that are spent and to see if programming like this should continue on into the future.”

In the next few weeks, the city will be sending out more information about the application process and the requirements for the grant to business owners through the Economic Development e-newsletter and other avenues.

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