Thank you for your interest in the City of Akron’s 2022 ARPA Small Business Relief Grant Program.
The application period is closed at this time. Our grant review team will be evaluating applications throughout the month of September. Our staff will be fielding a very high volume of calls throughout this evaluation process. If you submitted your application, then you do not need to contact us to confirm we have received it. We expect to make grant award decisions in October. We have included additional resources below.
Small business advisors work with small business owners and entrepreneurs to discuss their business needs and challenges. Business assistance is offered by individual appointments and small business workshops. The organizations below offer services at no cost to the business owner.
City of Akron Grant Walk-Through Video
Akron Small Business Grant Application Information Session
City of Akron
Small Business Relief Program
GRANT PROGRAM GUIDELINES
August 15, 2022
The City of Akron recognizes that Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) has had a significant detrimental impact on the health and economic wellbeing of the residents and businesses within the City of Akron, which has been particularly acute for local small businesses.
The City of Akron is a recipient of certain federal aid under the American Rescue Plan Act. The City of Akron, Ohio (the “City”) will invest $1 million in small businesses as part of $3.5 million dedicated from the City’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support business owners. This one-time grant places an emphasis on small business that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purpose and intent of the grant is to provide assistance to small businesses to keep their doors open, protect local jobs threatened by the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and increase the resiliency of local businesses within the City, particularly in geographic areas where the pandemic resulted in disproportionate economic outcomes.
The intent is that Akron-based small businesses in Qualified Census Tracts that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, will have the opportunity to apply for cash assistance to help mitigate the threat of business continuity due to increased supply chain costs and lost revenue associated with COVID-19.
This relief program is designed to provide a single grant of $10,000 available to companies with two to fifty (2-50) full-time equivalent employees in the City of Akron that have been negatively affected by the pandemic and related ongoing economic hardship. The City of Akron will provide a total of $1 million for grants under this program from the City’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
The below guidelines establish the businesses eligible for funding, the application and award process and other general operating guidelines that govern the use of funds and program administration. These guidelines are the official guidelines for the grant program. In the event of discrepancies that may exist between these guidelines and any other descriptions, guidance or information previously provided in the Notice of Funding Opportunity or any other promotional or informational releases about the program previously provided, these guidelines will provide the final guidance for the program.
I. General Description of the Program
Eligible businesses will be able to receive grant funds from the program in order to assist those businesses counter the effects of economic hardship, business disruption and supply chain disruption associated with the ongoing impact of the pandemic and related economic environment. While the immediate impact of the onset of the pandemic occurred in early 2020, long lasting effects on consumer traffic, labor markets, supply chain costs and business operations continue to impact the recovery of businesses in the City of Akron which have been disproportionately affected by the effects of the pandemic.
The amount of the grant per business will be $10,000 in an effort to provide substantive support to smaller businesses. The current program will fund up to 100 grants for affected City of Akron businesses and the award of those grants will be based on an evaluation of specific hardship identified in the application by the program administrator and further prioritized based on the receipt of past support and the inclusion of the business as part of a disproportionately disadvantaged group of businesses.
Overall, eligibility and adjudication of the grant requests will be tied to the attestation and requested documentation of applicants related to the economic hardships and business interruption incurred due to COVID-19 on the business’ ability to operate; its specific expenses to directly respond to aspects of the interruption or health issues created by COVID-19 for the employees, facilities or in support of customer safety.
Applicants must submit an application in the form determined by the Greater Akron Chamber (GAC) on behalf of the City of Akron as the program administrator. The Grant Review Team at the Greater Akron Chamber will review the same for completeness and compliance with these guidelines.
Applications will be available on Monday, August 15, 2022 at 2 p.m. and remain open until September 2, 2022 at Noon. All complete applications and supporting documentation submitted during that time will be reviewed by the GAC’s Grant Review Team. The application deadline may be extended based on the volume of applications received at the discretion of the program administrator with the consent of the City of Akron’s Integrated Development leadership team.
Applicants providing complete documentation as requested by the application; meeting the requirements for the grant; and otherwise deemed eligible based on a review of the application and required documentation will be eligible to be selected to receive the grant. Upon selection of the applicant for award of a grant, the applicant will be provided a grant agreement from the Greater Akron Chamber. The grant agreement will require certain attestations as to the information provided in the grant application and agreement to the eligible and intended use of funds by recipients in support of their business. Grants will not be distributed without an executed grant agreement.
Upon execution of that grant agreement, signaling an understanding of the requirements of the grant and affirming the attestations of the applicant, the applicant will be provided a grant in the amount of $10,000. Funds will be issued as soon as possible to the applicant’s business address in the name of the business as identified by its W-9, following the execution of the grant agreement and no later than fourteen business days after its receipt.
All grants made under the Program are being made with the intention to provide immediate funding to small businesses to offset the costs of business interruption or investments in business recovery required by the impact of the pandemic to support small businesses in the City of Akron maintain their status as operating, ongoing concerns, and to retain jobs that exist among City of Akron businesses in light of the severe economic hardships brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary objective of the Program is to minimize long-term economic hardship to City of Akron businesses that may result from the COVID-19 pandemic.
II. Eligibility Criteria
- To be eligible for grant funds under the Program, businesses must meet the following requirements:
- The business must operate for profit. Non-profit entities of any type are not eligible. (Business that are for-profit generally file an IRS Form 1040 with a Schedule-C, 1040-SR with a Schedule-C, 1065, 1120 or 1120-S.)
- The business may be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation (either S or C), professional association, limited liability company, limited partnership, or limited liability partnership. If a corporation, professional association, limited liability company, limited partnership or limited liability partnership, the business must be registered with the Ohio Secretary of State to do business in the State of Ohio. Documentation to establish the legitimacy of the business may be requested through the application process.
- Acceptable documentation could include but is not limited to evidence of existence of registration of a trade name with the Ohio Secretary of State; income tax returns including business income and expenses and noting the name of the business on the return; business banking or credit accounts; or similar documents.
- In the event that documentation is not available as listed above, the GAC as administrator of the program, may make a determination of legitimacy for the business based on its review and examination of other evidence as it determines is appropriate. Any decision to accept alternate documentation is at the sole discretion of the Greater Akron Chamber and its Grant Review Team.
- The business' primary business operations consisting of the majority of its employees must be located in one of the City of Akron’s Qualified Census Tracts. Due to the nature of the funding, the disproportionate economic impact on businesses in these identified Qualified Census Tracts and their specific eligibility through the ARPA funding criteria, only businesses in these Qualified Census Tracts will be eligible. Applicants can determine if their business is within one of these designated areas by entering the business address in the lookup tool at https://bit.ly/2UAGTOn. On the web page, enter your business address in the box near the top left of the page; hit “Go”; and then “check” the “Map Option” – “Color QCT Qualified Tracts”. Your address will be marked and you will be able to see whether or not it falls within the shaded area representing a QCT qualified tract. For any additional questions regarding eligibility of your business, email AkronGrant@GreaterAkronChamber.org. If in doubt, the Greater Akron Chamber will have the sole discretion to make a determination of eligibility for the program.
- The business must have been actively established or committed to ongoing operating expenses on or before January 1, 2020. To the extent there are questions about meeting this requirement, GAC may request additional documentation to resolve those questions. That documentation may include business bank account documentation, business tax documentation, credit accounts, occupancy permits, business operating licenses or other documentation acceptable to the GAC, in its sole discretion, as evidence of operations by the eligibility date. In cases where business transitions, ownership changes or other activities disrupt the ability to provide specific documentation, the Chamber as administrator of the program, may decide on the legitimacy for the business for eligibility based on its review and examination of other evidence as it determines is appropriate and the expressed intent of the program by the City of Akron.
- The business must not be permanently closed and must indicate based on answers in its application that it intends to continue its business operations into the foreseeable future.
- The business must have at least two (2) and equal to or fewer than fifty (50) full-time equivalent employees. A full-time equivalent employee for purposes of this grant is defined at an average of at least 35 hours per week or 1,750 hours per year. Full time equivalent employee numbers are calculated by dividing total estimated annual employee hours for the business by 1,750. For purposes of this criteria, “employee” shall mean an individual who (i) is employed as an employee who regularly works at least 20 hours per week and who is provided an IRS Form W-2 at the end of each calendar year, (ii) is independently contracted with the business, regularly works at least 20 hours per week and who receives an IRS Form 1099 at the end of each calendar year, or (iii) the principal owner(s) of the business, the sole proprietor, or partners, whichever is applicable, provided, however, that the principal owners, sole proprietor or partners need not be included in the number of employees if it would cause the business to exceed fifty individuals employed. To the extent that average hourly commitments of employees defined by the business as “full-time” vary from the estimates above, GAC will have the discretion to modify the calculation to meet the intent of the program.
- The business must attest to having less than $5 million in annual sales in any one of the calendar years of 2020, 2021 and 2022.
- The business must attest to not be in receivership or bankruptcy.
- The business must be current on licenses and permits required to conduct business in the State of Ohio and City of Akron, where applicable.
- The business must attest to the fact that it is current on all federal, state and local income, property and sales taxes or is a party to a valid and current delinquent tax contract or payment plan as of the date of application. Those on payment plans will be deemed current if plan payments are up to date as of the application date. All businesses will be required to provide the businesses’ federal employer identification number, or, if the business does not have a federal employer identification number, the social security number for the primary owner and under which the business operates.
- Applicants may not use grant proceeds for the same specific expenses for multiple grant programs supported by prior COVID-19 relief, including federal, state, local, and private grants. This “double dipping” of reimbursement for the same specific expense from multiple programs is prohibited. (e.g., While June rent and July rent could both be reimbursed from these programs, June rent cannot be reimbursed once from one program and then submitted again to a second program.) Receipt of support from other federal grant programs including the SBA Payment Protection Program, the State of Ohio Business Relief Program and the Summit County COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program does not affect eligibility for this program.
B. The businesses shall not be one of the following, regardless of its general eligibility under subsection (A), above
- Any business operating as an entertainment device arcade, as defined in Chapter 755 of the Codified Ordinances of the County of Summit, regardless of the location within Summit County.
- Any business operating as a sexually oriented business as that term is defined in Section 2907.40 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- Any business that primarily sells tobacco products, cigarettes, electronic smoking devices, or vapor products as those terms are defined in Section 2927.02 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- Any financial institution that makes loans or issues credit to the public, including, but not limited to, banks, credit unions, payday lenders, or any other similar business.
- Any business that generates revenue that is solely considered as passive activity by the Internal Revenue Service for income purposes.
- Any business that is publicly traded.
- Any business that is operated by a governmental agency or entity.
- Any business that is a club as defined in section 4301.01 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- Any business primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities or political issue advocacy.
- Any business that is a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, private school or long-term care center.
- Any business that is primarily engaged in the sale, cultivation, or distribution of cannabis products.
- Any business that is primarily engaged in the sale or distribution of liquor, not including restaurants or bars.
III. Eligible and Intended Use of Funds
Grant applicants determined eligible for an award and for whom an award has been determined will be made will be asked to execute a grant agreement prior to receipt of the grant funding. This grant agreement will attest to the information provided in the application and also attest to the understanding that funds received are intended to be used for expenses or investment of the applicant business in its operations, efforts to drive business generation or other related costs. These intended costs could include, but are not limited to: (1) rent or mortgage costs for the business location; (2) employee payroll and benefits costs; (3) utility costs for the business location; (4) investments to meet reopening safety guidelines, such as purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other workplace improvements directly related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19; (5) remote access equipment and connectivity, such as computers, software, printers, and/or online meeting, delivery or order fulfillment platforms for employers to operate remotely, enhance social distancing; and/or, (6) technology that enables businesses to develop and manage service/product delivery to enhance social distancing.
Recipients will agree to not use grant funding for the following types of non-business related expenses, including but not limited to: (1) paying off non-business debt, such as personal credit cards for purchases not associated with the business; (2) personal expenses such as buying a new family car or making repairs to a residence or property not defined as the core business location for the applicant business; (3) purchase of personal items; drugs, tobacco, and/or alcohol; (4) food and entertainment not related to business development; (5) employee or owner bonuses; (6) travel not associated with direct business operations; (7) costs incurred for federal, state, or local tax obligations; (8) political expenditures; or, (9) costs incurred for which the business has or will receive reimbursement from another source, including any other government grant program, forgivable loan program or insurance proceeds.
IV. Application and Award Process
- Businesses that wish to apply for a grant from the Program shall use the electronic application form provided by the Greater Akron Chamber at http://www.gaccovid19.org/AkronGrant and a current W-9 and other required information to establish eligibility and document economic hardship required for the program as requested in that application process. That application will include basic information regarding the business, as well as the following information:
- Summary level information on 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 YTD revenues and expenses, and an estimate of COVID-19 impact on revenue and expenses.
- Attestation to eligibility requirements and agreed intended eligible use of grant funds.
- For all businesses applying, the first full page of their most recent IRS Form 1040, 1040-SR, 1065, 1120 or 1120-S for tax year 2021, or, if the business has not filed IRS Form 1040, 1040-SR, 1065, 1120 or 1120-S for tax year 2021, but has filed one of said forms for tax year 2019, then the first page of the same. Additionally, any business providing a Form 1040 or 1040-SR must also include the full Schedule C that was filed with the Form 1040 or 1040-SR.
- A completed form W-9 for the business or recipient of grant funds to enable IRS reporting and verification.
- The business’ most recent IRS Form 941 documenting employee payroll costs.
- Applications will be taken beginning at 2 pm on Monday, August 15, 2022 and remain open until 12 noon on Friday, September 2, 2022.
- All applications must be fully submitted and completed during this time to be considered. Applications will be received electronically via the online survey application tool. Incomplete applications, applications in progress or applications started and not fully submitted by the deadline will not be considered for grant awards. Assistance is available for those that may need help in submitting their electronic application. Applicants needing assistance should email us at AkronGrant@greaterakronchamber.org or call the Grant Review Team at (330) 237-1219.
- Complete submission of accurate information is the responsibility of the applicant. The application process includes multiple opportunities for the applicant to review their submission and a final confirmation and copy of the applicant’s submission will be sent from the application system to the applicant’s email. Applicants should retain a copy of that email for their records. Information submitted will be deemed as certified to be accurate and truthful by the applicant and will be relied on for determining eligibility and applicant scoring. False information provided by applicants could result in the requirement to repay grant funds as a result of submitting a false or misleading application.
- Upon receipt of your application, the Grant Review Team at the Greater Akron Chamber will evaluate your submission for compliance with the requirements of the Grant. To the extent information is missing or incomplete, you will be contacted via email or by phone provided in the application. If we find we are unable to contact you at the contact information you have provided, we will provide a final written correspondence to your mailing address to notify you that our efforts have been unsuccessful and that we will close your file on a date certain. If we do not hear from you and cannot resolve our questions by that date, you will be ineligible for funding. In the event that application requests exceed available funding and other criteria for funding prioritization are equal, the time by which a fully complete application was submitted will be used to prioritize funding.
- Once your application has been approved for funding, the Greater Akron Chamber will issue a grant agreement to you to the email you have provided and to the attention of the person applying for the grant via DocuSign or other electronic means. Execution of the agreement by an appropriate, authorized representative of the business will be required to signal your legally binding commitment to the grant and your attestation of the truthfulness and validity of the information in your application. Once that executed agreement is received by the Greater Akron Chamber, we will issue a check to your business at the legal address for your business provided in the application. Grant funds will be distributed as soon as possible following the receipt of a signed grant agreement and no later than seven business days following receipt.
- All taxes associated with the acceptance and/or uses of cash awarded are the sole responsibility of the individual grantee. Recipients will receive a 1099 from the program administrator for the applicable income reporting period and will report grant distributions to the IRS according to applicable law. All grantees are advised to consult with their own tax professionals and/or legal counsel to ascertain the tax impact of the cash awards.
- The Greater Akron Chamber may require any business owner to complete any necessary documentation to determine if the grant to that business may be funded.
- In general, the Greater Akron Chamber will manage the Program and administer the distribution of grants in accordance with these Guidelines and its understood intent of the City of Akron for this grant program.
- Nothing contained herein is intended to obligate or bind, nor shall it be construed to obligate or bind, the Greater Akron Chamber or any grantor of funds to the Program, to make, award, or fund any grant to any entity whatsoever, and no entity shall have any claim, action, or cause of action against the Greater Akron Chamber or any grantor of funds for failure to make, award, or fund any grant. All determinations will be made with the best efforts of the Grant Review Team and in the spirit of meeting the objectives of this program. While we will be responsive to inquiries and work to our best capability to support every applicant with an award of funds, final award determinations and decisions are not subject to further appeal and fully within the discretion of the Grant Review Team subject to whatever process modifications they find necessary in the dispatch of their work to meet the guidelines of the program. A statement to this effect shall be included in the application.