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The city of Mission is determined to continue community support through the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Mon. Aug. 10, the city council met to discuss several items relating to the response toward the coronavirus. Daniel Silva, the Chief Executive Officer for the Mission Economic Development Corporation, presented the guidelines for the CARES COVID Program.
“The Mission CARES COVID Program is designed to help small businesses that were affected by COVID-19,” Silva said. “It consists of three funding levels: $1,000 for sole proprietors and home-based businesses, $3,500 for businesses in a commercial location with at least one W-2 employee and $7,000 for businesses in a commercial location with at least one W-2 employee and that generates over $200,000 in gross revenue.”
Eligible businesses must be within Mission city limits, be 51 percent owned by a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident, and business owners “shall agree to a claw-back provision, which requires misused funds to be paid back.”
Grant funds will be allowed to be used toward launching an online presence and sales, personal protective equipment and sanitizing supplies, short-term marketing campaigns, limited interior modifications for health and safety, delayed rent, mortgage and utility payments for the business properties and replenishing inventories.
The guidelines were approved by council. For a list of ineligible businesses, documentation required to apply and a further breakdown of the packages, see the city’s website https://ourmissionforward.com.
Deputy City Manager Aida Lerma presented an item regarding the administration of the Business Recovery Programs for economic support of local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lerma said there were three different ideas to help.
The first program is a grant that they call “Continue to Employ,” in which Mission businesses can receive up to $5,000 to keep employees on their payroll. Lerma said the requirement for these businesses is to present a 941 form for the second quarter of 2020 and sign a verification affidavit – only one application is allowed per business.
“The 941 is an official government form that indicates the name of the business, the Employee Identification Number and also the number of employees,” Lerma said. “So if a business has 11 employees, they get credit for ten. If a business has six employees, they get credit for all six. Up to $5,000 at $500 per employee (up to ten).”
The second program is referred to as the “City of Mission Commercial Utility Accounts Grant.” Lerma said every single commercial account that is signed up with the city of Mission will have the opportunity for a $500 grant.
“All they need to do is provide a copy of the W-9 form and a verification affidavit,” Lerma said. “One application per business.”
The third program is called the “Mission Gains Program,” which is tailored like a program in the city of Edinburg. Lerma said through this program, Mission residents and city of Mission employees can apply for a $250 gift card to be spent at participating businesses that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The requirement is going to be a proof of Mission residency, a driver’s license, utility bill which could be a water or electricity bill,” Lerma said “Only one gift card per household or address.”
Lerma added that upon approval, the city would prioritize administering funds for the most time-sensitive programs, because the city is on a deadline. As per a request from council member Jessica Ortega-Ochoa, the census would be worked into the recovery program as well.
One business can apply for all three programs. Mayor Armando O’caña said he has seen a need for these programs in the community, and was ready to see them rolled out.
Ortega-Ochoa asked if there was a separation between these programs and the packages being offered by the Mission EDC.
“These are all added programs because we want to make sure and support the local businesses that have been affected,” Lerma said. “Businesses will have to apply, and we’re keeping it very simple because they did have to provide extensive documentation to the program that the MEDC is running. All businesses can apply for as many as they like.”
Lerma noted that she would oversee these additional three programs, and the city manager’s staff would put a team together to expedite the process.