COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — If you have a small business or non-profit organization in Columbus, you may be eligible for reimbursements from a new local grant. The Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Columbus Consolidated Government to give about $4 million in American Rescue Plan money to small businesses and local non-profit organizations. 

About $3 million is available to small businesses. To be eligible for grant money, a business must have fewer than 100 employees, and it must have been in operation as of July 1, 2020 or earlier. Publicly traded or corporately owned franchises are not eligible for the program.

About $1 million is available for non-profit organizations. To be eligible for grant money, a non-profit must have an active 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS and have a board of directors with community representation.

Businesses and non-profit organizations must have physical locations in Columbus and cannot be home-based, said Meghan Richardson, senior director of economic development at the Chamber of Commerce.

“For nonprofits, there are also some operating budget requirements,” she said. “They either have to have an operating budget of more than $100,000 to receive $25,000 in grant funds or have an operating budget of more than $50,000 to receive $12,500 in grant funds.”

Money from both grants must be used for rent/mortgage, utility, and/or operational retrofitting expenses paid from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022.

“Operational retrofitting is going to be like anything that a business did in regards to construction or improvements of their building to remain open during the pandemic, whether that be like Plexiglass-type dividers,” Richardson said. “So, any type of modification that they made that were related to staying in business during the pandemic, COVID-19.”

These are not the only requirements for the programs. PDFs explaining both programs are available at https://www.columbusga.gov/arp. Click “Read complete details” under the overviews to see them. This is also the link to apply for grant money.

Richardson said the funding will come from the Columbus Consolidated Government.

“We are just helping in reviewing the grant applications and doing outreach and technical assistance for small businesses that are applying for the grant,” she said.

The programs operate on a first come, first served basis.

“Businesses are eligible up to $40,000 in grant money,” Richardson said. “But their utilities and lease and mortgages costs might not equal $40,000, so their grant might be less than $40,000.”

There will be several workshops explaining the application process. These will be held at the Chamber Board Room, located at 118 W 11th Street, on Nov. 9, 15, 22 and 29 at 9:30 a.m. Guests don’t have to register for these events.

“We will just do a presentation of the grant overview – basically the flyer or packet we’ve created,” Richardson said. “We’ll do a presentation on that. And then, the city will have some computers and scanners available for businesses to use to scan their required documents for the application and other technical assistance.”