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Topeka receives over $500,000 in CARES funding to help small businesses



TOPEKA, Kan – Small businesses in Topeka could look forward to more local relief after the city council unanimously voted to add over $500,000 to its business relief fund.

The governing body voted to amend the 2019 Consolidated Action plan’s budget to add the additional CARES Act money at Tuesday night’s meeting. Small business grants will receive $529,131 from the budget amendment, according to documents attached to the meeting’s agenda.

The city was required to amend the 2019 action plan to utilize the funds.

“Preference is given to minority and women owned businesses,” said Corrie Wright, housing services director, last week when she spoke to city council. “The additional funds will be a great asset to the community.”

This is the second amendment to the 2019 action plan with the current business relief funding projected to soon run out.

CARES Act funds have to be used to “prevent, prepare for or respond” to the pandemic, Wright said. Businesses must show a need, demonstrate a loss due to the virus and the business owner or 51% of a business’s employees must be low- to moderate-income to be eligible.

The additional funding could help 26 businesses in Topeka.

Councilmember Mike Lesser told The Topeka Capital-Journal local business relief programs are hoping to help businesses that may have been ineligible for other programs. Lesser is also a member of the Joint Economic Development Organization’s local business task force that is working on additional COVID-19 relief.

The city’s relief program has different requirements for the money because it relies on federal funds, but JEDO’s program has fewer restrictions because it is funded locally.

“What we don’t want to do is have the same people eligible and leave the same people out,” he said.