Small businesses in Iowa are asking for $148 million in state aid

Applications from small businesses across the state are seeking $148 million in emergency assistance.


Katie Goodale

The Pedestrian Mall is seen on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Downtown was quiet during the first weekend after spring break as classes have been moved online and the bars closed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Sarah Watson, Managing Editor

Small businesses in the state have submitted 14,000 applications asking for $148 million in assistance from the state, Iowa Economic Authority Director Debbie Durham said Wednesday at the governor’s press conference.

Of those applicants, about $10 million was doled out to 500 businesses in grants between $5,000 — $25,000 last night.

The aid is part of a small business support plan that offers grants and tax deadline extensions to local businesses affected by COVID-19 that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced March 23.

This first round prioritized businesses with greatest revenue disruption, such as restaurants and bars that closed earliest, Durham said. Other businesses that applied could receive funding in later rounds, but there won’t be a new application process, she added.

Each county had at least 15 applications submitted, Durham said.

Also, the Iowa Department of Revenue received 5,700 applications for a 60-day tax deferral, and the department is expecting 2,300 more. All will be approved, Durham said.

Reynolds said she’s expanding funds available for small-business assistance from $4 million to $24 million, a power given to her by state lawmakers in a bill granting her emergency powers to transfer funds.

Reynolds said Iowa is expecting to receive $1.25 billion from the CARES Act, a roughly $2 trillion coronavirus aid package passed by Congress in March. She said the state was still waiting for specific guidelines on exactly how the state should use the money, and the state’s economic assistance would serve as a “stop-gap” in the meantime.

Reynolds confirmed 97 new positive coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,145. Seventy-nine counties in Iowa have at least one positive case and 122 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized. Recoveries total 431, which is 31 percent of the state’s positive cases.

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