SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Utah Senate Labor and Business Committee unanimously advanced a bill to the full Senate that would create a COVID-19 relief grant for small businesses.
The bill’s sponsor Senator Kirk Cullimore (R-Sandy) says qualifying businesses must have began operations on or before January 1, 2020, and have less than 250 employees.
“The first window will be for businesses who can demonstrate a 90% loss then there will some additional qualifiers,” Sen. Cullimore says.
The Utah Cultural Alliance says it needs the help.
“We are in desperate desperate need,” Crystal Young-Otterstrom says. “Since COVID we have experienced $76 million in loss.”
Committee Chair Senator Curtis Bramble (R-Provo) says this bill could potentially open the system up to fraud.
“Virtually earthing in the economy can be tied to a downturn in COVID if it is spun properly,” Sen. Bramble says. That has been a real part of the problem drilling down to the most impacted.”
In July, the owner of a Utah trucking company has been charged in federal court with submitting a fraudulent loan application to get a Paycheck Protection Program loan through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Then in September, a 64-year-old Salt Lake City man pleaded guilty in federal court to fraud in information he provided when he applied for the Paycheck Protection Program loan.
Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development says there are steps in place to ensure fraud does not happen again.
“They have to follow several pretty rigorous financial processes where they have to demonstrate financial statements,” Kori Ann Edwards says.
The Utah Culture Alliance says more assistance is needed now more than ever.
“Even if restrictions lifted today, we would still be unable to generate full revenue.”
There are already state and federal programs for small businesses struggling to make ends meet.