Shawnee allocating federal and city funds to local small businesses, public service providers for coronavirus relief

Shawnee is allocating federal aid to local businesses and public service providers as part of relief efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdowns.

The city received $168,955 of federal dollars made available from the CARES Act. The Shawnee City Council on Monday unanimously agreed to match those federal dollars for a total of $337,910 to go toward local relief efforts.

The city is allocating up to $56,955 in federal dollars — and matching that amount, bringing the relief funds to a total of $113,910 — toward public service providers that directly assist low- and moderate-income households impacted by COVID-19.

Additionally, the city council unanimously agreed to create the Shawnee Economic Recovery Assistance Grant program and provide $112,000 of federal funds — with a city match that brings the total to $224,000 — for small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

City staff recommended the following public service providers receive a total of $17,500 in aid:

  • Salvation Army to receive $7,500
  • Shawnee Community Services to receive $5,000
  • Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas to receive $5,000

City staff also recommended the remaining $39,455 be reserved for future public service needs during the ongoing pandemic.

Small businesses who apply for the Shawnee Economic Recovery Assistance grants could receive up to $5,000 in lease/rent/mortgage assistance. Grants do not need to be repaid to the city, according to city documents.

Lauren Grashoff, city planner, said the city will handle allocation of the business grants. City staff is working to determine the funding source for the city’s match that supports public service providers. Meanwhile, the city’s match for the local business assistance will come out of the city’s economic development fund.

City councilmembers asked that the city review and provide these grants on a first come, first serve basis, and to expedite the funds to qualifying businesses that demonstrate an urgent need such as being at risk of closures or layoffs.

Councilmembers Eric Jenkins and Lisa Larson-Bunnell also sought flexibility with the coronavirus relief funds, citing the fluid situation of the pandemic.

“I do think one thing we’ve all learned over the past several months is that this COVID crisis is ever-changing with oftentimes needs that we didn’t expect,” said Councilmember Lindsay Constance. “So I like the idea of staying a little bit flexible, moving forward with this, providing those social service needs and helping out our businesses, and making sure then that if we need to do something else, we can, and we look at the success of the program to determine what’s best.”

Business grantees must meet eligibility requirements such as being locally owned and deemed non-essential during the stay-at-home orders. Businesses must also demonstrate that they had a negative economic impact from the pandemic and shutdowns (examples include restaurants, bars and breweries, retail, fitness centers and beautician/barber services).