Pot tax money gives struggling businesses some relief

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A new $125,000 grant program to help struggling businesses in Medford was so popular that it was effectively used up as fast as it became available Monday morning.

“The $125,000 was gone in 15 minutes,” said Medford City Councilor Tim D’Alessandro. “We’re really happy we could inject this little bit into the economy.”

He said the city hasn’t processed all of the applications yet to determine whether the businesses that applied were qualified, but the city received enough applications to exceed the dollar value of the grant program.

The money for the Small Business Assistance Grant Program came from cannabis taxes. D’Alessandro anticipates approvals will come in days, and the city has devoted extra staff to processing the applications.

“We’re anticipating a really quick turnaround,” he said. “This was a huge need in our community right now.”

Based on the overwhelming need, D’Alessandro said he plans to ask the City Council to support another grant to help struggling businesses.

Applications were accepted starting at 10 a.m. Monday morning, and local businesses could apply for grants of up to $5,000 at www.ci.medford.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=4455. Grants would be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

To qualify, a business had to provide a copy of an IRS form W-9, have a Medford business license, have no outstanding city liens, fees or code enforcement cases.

The business could have no more than 15 employees as of March 1.

The business would also not be eligible if it has been a recipient of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Franchise business are not eligible.

The minimum grant is $1,500, and a business could receive an additional $500 for each employee, up to a maximum of $5,000.

D’Alessandro said that if the council decides to put more money into the grant program, those who have already applied would still be eligible.

Many local businesses that have been shut down for two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic are looking at limited reopenings Friday, while taking steps to minimize transmission of the virus.

Gov. Kate Brown’s office strongly recommends the use of face masks for employees and customers.

The City Council earlier approved setting aside $100,000 in marijuana tax dollars for rental and nutrition assistance to help families dealing with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The city disbursed the money to local nonprofits such as ACCESS, Rogue Retreat and St. Vincent de Paul.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

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