Juneau City Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly added an additional $2 million in CARES Act money to the city's small business grant program, allowing the next phase of the program to begin sooner. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Next phase of business grants gets boost

Program got an extra $2 million Thursday

An additional $2 million will be going small businesses in Juneau after the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly approved an emergency resolution Thursday evening.

Without the additional funding, the Juneau Economic Development Council, which administers the city’s grants to small businesses, would have had to prorate disbursements, meaning they would have to wait until all applications are fully processed before any money could be sent out.

But businesses need that money now, said Laura Martinson, owner of Caribou Crossings and member of the Economic Stabilization Task Force. The city’s grants were designed to work in phases alongside federal relief money, Martinson told the Empire in a phone interview Friday, and the second phase of the city’s program widened the scope of what funds could be used for.

The federal Paycheck Protection Program provided businesses money to pay their employees and some other limited expenses, Martinson said, but it was too restrictive in what it could pay for.

[City votes to create spending plan with federal deadline looming]

“Phase 2 is different in that it opened up eligibility to use the grant funds,” which is crucial for the different kinds of businesses receiving the money, she said.

In her case, Martinson said she’ll use the money to pay for her inventory, which is mostly works by Alaskan artists. Martinson emphasized the local impact of the city’s grant program.

“Most of that money stays right here in Juneau because all of the bills that we owe are to local vendors,” she said. “The majority of the checks I write stay here in Juneau.”

More than 400 businesses have applied for the city’s grant program, Martinson said, which she said she thinks of as over 400 families and hundreds of jobs being supported.

The $2 million comes from the city’s federal COVID-19 relief money that currently needs to be spent before the end of the year because of a federal deadline. There are bills in Congress to extend the deadline, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, told city leaders to “keep it in your pocket” at Southeast Conference this year, but city leaders have also expressed skepticism toward national politics.

Without the additional funding, JEDC said in a Thursday memo to the Assembly it would have to wait until late October to disperse the next phase of the grants.

“If this Emergency Appropriation Resolution passes, JEDC could begin disbursing eligible grant awards as soon as tomorrow,” the memo said.

Also Thursday, the Assembly voted to allocate $175,000 to the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce for a COVID-19 testing and monitoring program for businesses with willing employees. The program would including testing, both PCR and antigen; as well as regular temperature checks for employees, according to the meeting’s agenda.

In a similar vein, the Assembly also approved $383,775 for Travel Juneau to create a Juneau Cares campaign highlighting the local visitor industry’s commitment to health and safety.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Chunks of ice break off the Perito Moreno Glacier, in Lake Argentina, at Los Glaciares National Park, near El Calafate, in Argentina's Patagonia region, March 10, 2016. As glaciers melt and pour massive amounts of water into nearby lakes, 15 million people across the globe live under the threat of a sudden and deadly outburst flood, a new study finds. (AP Photo / Francisco Munoz)
Study: 15 million people live under threat of glacial floods

More than half of those are in just four countries: India, Pakistan, Peru and China.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File 
A porcupine dines in mid-August near the Mendnehall Glacier.
On the Trails: Putting a finer point on porcupines

Plants such as roses and devil’s club aren’t the only prickly ones…

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature in the House chambers on Tuesday. The Republican senator, appearing on the same day as Democratic President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech (and thus absent from it), criticized the administration on issues ranging from drugs to opposing resource development in Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sullivan applauds, denounces feds in speech to Legislature

Senator praises ferry funds and monitoring of China’s balloon, fears Biden limiting oil project.

Members of the Juneau Police Department pose for a group photo during the annual JPD awards ceremony on Monday. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
JPD honors officers in annual award ceremony

The late Chief Pat Wellington presented with legislative memoriam.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Edward Richards, left, a high school student in the Sitka School District, talks about the lack of mental health services in Alaska’s public schools as part of the testimony also offered by district Superintendent Frank Hauser, center, and student Felix Myers during a Senate Education Meeting on Monday at the Alaska State Capitol. The committee is proposing a 17% increase in the state’s school funding formula, which was remained essentially flat since 2017.
School’s in at the Capitol

Students and education leaders from around state make case for more classroom cash.

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

Most Read