County’s business relief package still finding its legs

A Hays County program to provide economic relief to small businesses whose futures are in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic is not yet up and running. Because the commissioners court does not meet on June 16, it’s unlikely to be much closer by the end of this month.

The structure of the Economic Cash Assistance Program (ECAP) was approved by the court June 2, designed as a partnership between the county and municipalities, each of which would be able to appoint board members.

Each governmental entity would be required to help fund the effort in exchange for input on who winds up on the Awards Committee.

But on June 9, General Counsel Mark Kennedy told commissioners that two municipalities –  San Marcos and Wimberley – have yet to respond to the county’s outreach, being conducted at least in part by Jason Giulietti, president of the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP).

It also appears that not all municipalities are eager to put up cash. “I think Buda is interested,” Kennedy told the court, “in appointing a representative for Buda.” He noted that Buda already has an incentive program that has already delivered to many small businesses. “They are inquiring how much they need to contribute,” Kennedy said. Although there’s not stated minimum contribution, Kennedy said since Hays County is putting in $500,000, “anything less than $25,000 (is) not even a gesture.”

The ECAP provides for grants of up to $10,000 to qualifying businesses on a first-come, first-served basis. Qualifying businesses are those that employ 10 or fewer employees and grants will be awarded on the basis of $1,000 per employee. Sole proprietors who have no employees may be eligible for a grant of $1,000,

Employees earning up to $98,914.50 annually are considered qualifying employees so long as they do not have an ownership interest in the business greater than 10 percent.

The grant can be used for paying rent and mortgage, buying inventory, supplies, fixtures, equipment, maintenance and payroll. They cannot be used to acquire real property, benefits for terminated employees, repayment of a PPP or EIDL loan or personal expenses.

The board that will administer the grants has yet to be named. According to what the court approved June 2, it would be made up of nine people, including:

• A county-appointed representative of the underserved community organization
• A county-appointed active or retired Certified Public Accountant with its principal place of business in Hays County
• A representative of the Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area
• A representative of Texas State University (e.g. Small Business Development Center, McCoy School of Business, other)
• A representative residing within San Marcos or the city’s ETJ
• A representative residing within Kyle or the city’s ETJ
• A representative residing within Buda or the city’s ETJ
• A representative residing within Dripping Springs or the city’s ETJ
• A representative residing within Wimberley or the city’s ETJ

If the city is a donor, its city council will select the representative. If not, the county will appoint one.

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