Northam Expands Virginia’s COVID-19 Financial Aid Program

Gov. Ralph Northam speaks during a news conference in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

By Arianna Coghill

September 23, 2020

More small businesses now qualify for COVID-19 funding

RICHMOND- COVID-19 hit small businesses across the country and Virginia is no exception. Because of the pandemic, many entrepreneurs and mom and pop shops were forced to cut their hours and lay off employees while struggling to pay mortgage and utility costs. 

READ MORE: SCC Says No Utility Cutoffs For Two Weeks

Unlike major corporations, some small businesses can’t handle this financial hit without some kind of assistance. The Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity launched a recovery program in August. But this program excluded many small businesses. 

Thankfully, the SBSD fixed that issue this week. 

More Businesses Will Receive COVID-19 Relief

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that the SBSD will expand their eligibility requirements to allow more small businesses to apply for monetary assistance. Rebuild VA is a $70 million economic recovery fund that will supply 7,000 small businesses with grants for up to $10,000. Businesses can use the grants to cover employee salaries, mortgage and rent payments, as well as pay for personal protective equipment.

In March, the governor ordered that Virginia businesses limit their operations to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants, retail stores, gyms, and movie theaters were all required to adopt temporary restrictions to protect their customers and staff. Some of the restrictions include limiting the amount people inside their stores and shortening business hours.

While the order was necessary to keep Virginians safe, a lot of these businesses took a hit.

In response, Gov. Northam passed House Bill 1505 to create a grant program to help them. As a result, the SBSD teamed up with three other government agencies to launch Rebuild VA on Aug. 10. Good standing businesses with less than 25 employees that made less than $1.5 million a year were eligible to apply.

However, after the first 30 days after the launch, the agencies analyzed the eligible and ineligible forms from small businesses who applied.  Eventually, they came to the conclusion that an expansion was needed. 

“When we initially launched Rebuild VA, we focused on reaching the small businesses and nonprofit organizations most in need,” said Northam in a press release. “I am deeply grateful for the work of our state agencies to swiftly adjust the parameters of this program so we can assist more Virginia businesses as they weather this health crisis and build back stronger.”

The new expansion will include small hotels, bed and breakfasts and film companies.

What Makes A Business Eligible?

In order to receive funding, the business must meet these requirements:

-Must be in good standing.

-Must be make less than $1.5 million a year in gross revenue

-Have less than 25 employees.

But, they can only use the Rebuild VA grant for “recurring costs” like personal protective equipment and employee pay.

Businesses must also certify that they have not received grant or loan dollars from federal, state, or local CARES Act funded programs, or if they have received CARES Act funding, that they will use the Rebuild VA grant only for recurring expenses. These businesses must also certify that the Rebuild VA funds will not be used to cover the same expenses as other CARES Act funds.

For additional information about Rebuild VA, expanded eligibility criteria, covered expenses, and how to submit an application, visit

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