Greene County’s Forgivable Advance for Small Business Assistance (FASBA) program was recently granted an additional $300,000. According to a press release, the original $900,000 was distributed to 24 businesses in Greene County. Crystal Simmons, Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnership Program Director, said that the additional funding is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“Not to say we wouldn’t get some in the future, but this is the last batch of funding under this contract and its first come first served. Before we used a scoring criteria to kind of help us, if necessary, determine where the businesses fell to receive funding,” she said. “[The deadline] is rolling at the moment until the funds are gone.”
Simmons said that the county submitted both a discretionary application and an entitlement application to the state for the funding, and the additional funding came from funds that other counties were not able to use. She said that the state approached Greene County and offered the program the additional money.
“There were other grantees in the state that were entitled to those funds that did not take them, they opted out or either was returned because they could not complete the project,” she said. “[The state] had $300,000, so they amended our competitive application and provided that funding to us. So it was a little different, we didn’t make an application for the funding, they just added to a previous grant contract that we had.”
Simmons said that eligibility for the program is based on three criteria that evaluate a business’s losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, funding from other grants, and the business’s annual revenue. Simmons said that this helps keep businesses from receiving unjust enrichment through the program.
“We wouldn’t want to give a small business 50,000 and they only are a business that was clearing maybe 20,000 annually, because again that would be unjust enrichment,” she said. “So we found out what their actual loss was, we subtracted any grant that they got, and we made sure that we didn’t give them any more than what they actually lost.”
According to a flyer for the FASBA program, businesses that received the funding can use the funds for payroll, utilities, rent, supplies, inventory and various other expenses. Simmons said that businesses that received the original funding primarily used the funds for rent, utilities and payroll expenses, although businesses that received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program could not use the funds for payroll.
“Some businesses used it for payroll, but another thing we limited was businesses that got PPP,” she said. “We didn’t pay that payroll again.”
Simmons considers the creation of the program itself a success, and she said that her staff played a vital role in making it work.
“I think that the actual creation of the program was quite a success, the county’s not had a program quite like this one,” she said. “We’ve really done a lot in the past couple of years, restructuring our economic development department and putting together a great team to look forward to what we can do in terms of development and getting things up and going here.”