Proposal for CDBG Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Grant Program

At the last Bath County Board of Supervisors meeting, it passed unanimously for the County Administrator, Ashton Harrison, to write a letter of intent to apply for a CDBG, or Community Development Block Grant with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to establish a small business emergency grant program. 

He wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors saying,

“I would work closely with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission and the Bath EDA to implement this program. This is a rapidly developing opportunity to respond to a rapidly developing economic crisis..Please keep in mind that CDBG is a reimbursement program. To expediate funding to County businesses, the Board of Supervisors and the EDA would have to consider upfronting the cost of business grants prior to being under contract with the DHCD and seek the reimbursement later. This however is a risk; the CDBG funding is not accessible until the contract is executed. The main question for the Board of Supervisors and the EDA is if this is an acceptable risk considering the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 on our community. I believe it is.”

Here is an overview of the program-

  • The Virginia DHCD or VA Department of Housing and Community  Development, is making available current Community Development Block Grant (CHBG) funding to small cities, towns, and rural counties to respond to local needs related to COVID-19 response
  • Up to 6,550,000 dollars in CDBG funding during the 2020 funding cycle is available to assist units of local government in addressing issues created or worsened by the virus.
  • DHCD is particularly interested in supporting communities with their COVID-19 related projects that can be implemented and deliver benefits quickly.
  • Projects seeking CDBG funding must meet at least 1 of the 3 national objectives. Projects must: 
  1. Benefit low to moderate income households
  2. Aid in the prevention and eliminations of slums or blight, or
  3. Meet other community development needs having a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the community.
  • Bath County has previously been awarded funding through the CDBG program to address housing needs. Both the Thomastown and the Pinehurst housing improvement projects were funded through them.

Harrison shared that DHCD encouraged the county to proceed with a letter of interest and a 250,000 dollar CDBG request is recommended. The project application and approval process includes:

  • A letter of interest providing a summary of the project
  • A completed application of about 3 to 4 questions
  • 2 public meetings. (The April Supervisors’ meeting counts as one of those)
  • Announcement of a CDBG award of the Governor
  • Completion of the Environmental Review process. This type of project would be a Categorical Exclusion but still must go through the public notice and comment period. This takes a minimum of 30 days.
  • Execution of a contract with DHCD
  • Although fast-tracked, the entire process will take at least 30 to 60 days. 

Board member, Roy Burns, said,

“As Ashton said, this county goes through grant programs all the time; and all the time it is usually a back-door grant or a reimbursement grant. I’m all in favor of helping a small business- I’m a small business myself.”

Supervisor Lee Fry said this sounds like a good idea to go ahead and start the paperwork and application. Shelton Burns also said he supports this and thinks they should do all they can for the businesses in the county and that this is a good way to start. Chairman Eddy Hicklin said we are all in this together.

For AMR News, I’m Abby Dufour

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Abby Dufour

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