The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced Monday the creation of new financial assistance program for the region’s small business community: The El Paso County’s Financial Assistance for Safety, Technology, and Economic Resilience (FASTER) Build Safe Grant Program & Commercial Assistance Grant Program.
“Through a partnership with the County of El Paso, our chamber will implement this initiative to assist local businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” EPHCC officials shared via a news release. “The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (EPHCC) will aid businesses with 1-30 employees.”
According to EPHCCC officials, the largest amount of grant assistance is $10,000 for operational safety improvements, via the Build Safe Grant Program, and $10,000 for mortgage, rent, and/or utility assistance (Commercial Assistance Program). Businesses can qualify for both programs.
The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is accepting applications from January 6, 2021 through March 1, 2021; any small, minority-owned, women-owned or veteran-owned business located in El Paso County can apply.
However, selection preference will be given to businesses located in the rural areas in the outlying areas of the county such as Anthony, Vinton, Canutillo, Horizon City, Socorro, Fabens, San Elizario, Tornillo, and Clint; we will serve businesses located in the city of El Paso after the aforementioned areas are assisted. The deadline to apply is
Eligible businesses are those that provide services and operate within the county limits of El Paso, Texas. Moreover, these businesses must have been established on or before January 1, 2020, employee less than thirty people, and demonstrate a loss of at least fifteen percent in revenue from March 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lastly, they must generate less than $3,000,000 in gross annual revenue and possess an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Excluded businesses are those who derive their income primarily from rental or income producing properties, operate as an age-restricted business (bars, clubs, and tattoo parlors), or those owned by employees of the County of El Paso.
Additionally, if an entity is a party to a: lawsuit against the County within the past twenty-four months, terminated contract in the past twenty-four months with the County because of insufficient performance, or has received a citation for failure to comply with health directives or orders issued by the Texas Governor or El Paso County Judge, they are ineligible.
A business is not eligible if it is a sexually oriented business as defined by El Paso City code, derives more than one-third of its annual income from gambling activities, engages in illegal activities, sells cannabis or cannabis related products, or is in active bankruptcy.
Furthermore, a government entity, finance company, or a business with a past due liability or tax lien against their property in the city or county of El Paso is not eligible.
El Paso Hispanic Chamber CEO urges businesses in the community to apply quickly for this program, stating “we are very grateful for our partnership with the county… this program is a tremendous opportunity that will aid our small business community that has been devastated by the pandemic… please do not hesitate to call or visit our office to apply.”
The application for this program requires the following documents:
- Owner and employer’s options:
o Acceptable documents: tax documents, payroll lists, salary stubs,
- Proof of business location:
o Acceptable documents: lease, utility bills, business registration, vendor or customer histories, and mail received at the business location in the name of the business.
- Reduction of business capacity due to COVID-19:
o Acceptable documents: bank statements, notice to close as a non-essential business, profit and loss statement, vendor or customer letter of verification.
Those businesses applying for the Build Safe Grant Program must provide the EPHCC with invoices or estimates for the following types of business improvements:
- Drive Thru/Walkup Service Window
- Plexiglas or other clear shields at strategic locations
- HELP Air Filtration, Bi-Polar Ionization, UV Light Purification
- Other specialized equipment that limits the spread of contagion via anti-microbial or anti-septic technology/design (e.g. antimicrobial mats, touchless door entry, automatic flush toilets, motion sensor faucets, motion sensor light fixtures)
- Expenses that facilitate delivery, curbside-service, al fresco dining or other services that allow business to have zero interaction with customers indoors for period of 90 days
- Construction of open or semi-open facilities to move operations involving interaction with customers away from indoor facilities
- Investments in technological solutions that:
o Allows of employees to work from home for 120 days
o Increases digital sales
o Replacement of current POS system with one that allows for touchless payments
- Costs from above may total up to the maximum amount of $10,000
Businesses cannot use awarded funds to purchase salaries or employee compensation, food or beverages, entertainment expenses, travel expenses, cell phones, a television with high definition capacity, alcoholic beverages, or medicines of any kind.
Those applying for the Commercial Assistance Grant Program must provide the following:
- Proof of commercial mortgage (March 2020 – January 2021)
- Commercial rent (March 2020 – January 2021)
- Business utility invoices (March 2020 – January 2021)
The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will screen applicants for eligibility.
“We will give clients two weeks from the time of their acknowledgement to provide required documentation. Any business that is unresponsive during this time will be deemed ineligible for grant funds,” EPHCC officials added.
A business may either hand deliver a completed application package to our office located on 2401 E. Missouri or email it to [email protected]. For any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at (915)-566-4066.