Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Cherokee LMI Small Business Grant

In response to COVID-19’s economic ramifications on small businesses, we are pleased to announce that Cherokee County is partnering with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) to administer the Cherokee County Low to Moderate Income (LMI) Grant for Small Business.  This grant is a $300,000 pool of funds providing local small businesses relief in meeting urgent financial needs, including ongoing operational costs such as payroll, vendors, utilities, rent and personal protective equipment (PPE).  The LMI Small Business Grant is made possible by Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding through the CARES Act. CDBG is a type of federal funding with specific eligibility criteria geared toward meeting low to moderate income (LMI) thresholds.

The LMI Grant for Small Business application portal will be open September 10 through September 30, 2020. Please review the program information below to determine if your business is eligible to apply.

Once you have fully read this site, email outstanding questions to grantinfo@cherokeega.org or call 770-528-4912.

IF ELIGIBLE, HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW TO BE READY ON SEPTEMBER 10:

  1. Get your DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet and apply for your CAGE Code at SAM.gov.
    NOTE: This is a 10-14 day free process, so we recommend initiating it while you work on your other items. See details below.
  2. Think through the best way to demonstrate how you’ve been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
    Is it your employee count? Declining revenues? Write a few paragraphs to describe the specific story of your business.
  3.  Identify your LMI salaries and how you would use grant funds.
  4. Gather your 2018 and 2019 tax forms and/or Profit and Loss Statements, 4th quarter 2019 and 1st and 2nd quarter 2020 GA Unemployment Form DOL-4N, Annual Registration from the State of GA, and current business license issued by Cherokee County or its municipalities.

Applications

Each application will be reviewed by COED staff to ensure all eligibility requirements have been met and applications are complete. All eligible applications will then be reviewed by an independent committee responsible for selecting grant recipients. The committee will be comprised of individuals with diverse professional backgrounds and a strong knowledge of small business and finance. Reviewers will utilize an objectively based scoring matrix to evaluate each application in a fair and consistent manner. Primary evaluation criteria include employee retention/creation, with greater consideration given to full time positions due to their proportionately greater economic impact; previous receipt of SBA or other economic assistance; and depth of economic injury to business.

All application documents will be collected through a secure, online platform.  The application window will be open September 10 through September 30, 2020; no submissions can be accepted once the deadline has passed. Applications meeting eligibility criterion will be considered on a first come, first serve basis and are time and date stamped during application submission. If the amount of applicants far exceeds available funds, the submission window will be closed and applicants will be notified that funds have been depleted, as well as their status in the queue. Conversely, applications will be accepted beyond the deadline if funds remain.

The committee will review applications as expeditiously as possible, with a goal of notifying grant recipients of award no later than November 6, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions on how to complete your application can be found below. Any additional questions will be answered by the COED Team at grantinfo@cherokeega.org or 770-528-4912.

Grant Amounts and Eligible Uses of Funds

Maximum grant award is $10,000; minimum grant request is $2,500.

Future expenditures, as well as those already incurred, are eligible for funding/reimbursement, provided the funds are used to prevent, prepare and respond to the coronavirus and its effects. The spirit of this program is intended to support retention, rehiring and creation of LMI positions; supporting documentation is required. However, other expenses as described below are eligible.

Businesses will provide receipts or other documentation for expenses already incurred and a detailed description with supporting documentation of future spend. Costs for reimbursement cannot have been incurred prior to January 21, 2020For more information on reimbursement and future spend, see FAQ section below.

Grant funds may be used for the following:

  • Payroll to retain, rehire or create new jobs; all positions must meet HUD’s LMI threshold of no more than $46, 350.00 on a gross annual basis, which equates to 2,080 annual hours or 40 hours/week. Submitted part time positions will be scaled accordingly. Federal regulations prevent a duplication of benefits. You must have expended any Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds received to use this grant for payroll expenses.
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Vendors
  • PPE and other supplies/costs to ensure employee and customer safety

Eligibility Requirements

  • Business must have experienced a negative economic impact due to the Coronavirus pandemic;
  • Funds must be tied to prevent, prepare and respond to the coronavirus and its effects;
  • Application must be complete to be considered for funding, including the required accompanying documentation;
  • Having received PPP or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funding will not render a business ineligible, but priority will be given to those businesses that have not received PPP, EIDL or other SBA funding;
  • Business must certify if they have received PPP/SBA funds, fund type, amount received, and associated timelines;
  • Business should employ 50 or fewer W2 employees;
  • Business can be retaining, rehiring or creating jobs meeting the LMI salary threshold from HUD’s published income limits of no more than $46, 350.00 on a gross annual basis, which equates to 2,080 annual hours or 40 hours/week. Salaries for submitted part time employees will be evaluated on an equivalent scale;
  • W2 full-time or full-time equivalent (FTE) positions qualify to meet the LMI salary threshold. Businesses have the ability to utilize part-time employees working a minimum of 15 hours/week toward FTE positions. For purposes of this program, we will utilize a 40-hour workweek to calculate FTE. 1099 employees are not eligible for consideration;
  • 70% of retained, rehired, or created jobs submitted for consideration must meet these stated LMI thresholds;
  • Business may be for profit, non-profit, partnership or sole proprietor; sole proprietor must meet the LMI income threshold and demonstrate economic injury due to the pandemic;
  • Business should hold a valid business license issued through Cherokee County, Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Nelson, Waleska or Woodstock;
  • Business must have been in continuous operation one year prior to March 1, 2020;
  • Business should be current on all Cherokee County and municipal taxes and fees;
  • Business headquarters or primary location must be within Cherokee County. For purposes of this grant program, primary location is defined by having 80% of your total employee count physically located at or reporting to the Cherokee location;
  • Priority consideration will be given to women- and minority-owned businesses;
  • Priority consideration will be given to businesses employing full time employees at LMI salaries, given their greater impact on household income and the area economy;
  • Publicly traded companies and corporately-owned franchises are not eligible for this grant. For the purposes of this grant program, corporately-owned franchises are defined as primary ownership interest and operation by the parent company;
  • Ineligible businesses include: gambling institutions, multi-level marketing organizations, real estate investment trusts, and adult entertainment, per CARES Act legislation;
  • Businesses must not have been debarred or suspended from doing business with the federal government and must provide a Commercial and Governmental Entity (CAGE) code for verification. You do not have to have received your code to apply, but your CAGE Code must be provided and reviewed prior to grant award. See Process for Obtaining a CAGE Code below;
  • Applicants will be deemed ineligible if any owner is presently involved in any bankruptcy or criminal action

Required Supporting Information

  • Businesses should be able to provide business description, explanation of how it has been impacted by the COVID-19 national emergency, and how grant funding will be used to stabilize operations. Include proposed use of funds or requested reimbursement, itemized by type and amount.
    •  
  • If you are a For Profit, Sole Proprietor or Partnership, you will be required to submit the following:
    • Completed online digitally signed Grant Application Form
    • A stimulus fund affidavit detailing any federal stimulus monies received including type, amount, dates of disbursement and when funds were expended
    • Copy of 2019 business tax return (IRS Forms accepted include: 1120, 1120S, 1065, Schedule C or Schedule F) or company financial statements including 2019 Balance Sheets and Profit & Loss Statements
    • Copy of 2018 business tax return (IRS Forms accepted include: 1120, 1120S, 1065, Schedule C or Schedule F)
    • Copy of 4th quarter 2019 and 1st and 2nd quarter 2020, GA Unemployment Form DOL-4N, Tax and Wage Report (if you have employees; this form does not consider sole proprietors and partners as employees)
    • Copy of Annual Registration from Georgia Secretary of State’s office (with the exception of sole proprietors)
    • Copy of current business license issued by Cherokee County or a Cherokee County municipality (Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Nelson, Waleska, Woodstock)
  • If you are a NON-PROFIT, you will be required to submit the following:
    • Completed online digitally signed Grant Application Form
    • A stimulus fund affidavit detailing any federal stimulus monies received including type, amount, dates of disbursement and when funds were expended
    • 2019 (or most recent) 990 filing (Form 990, 990EZ or 990N)
    • 2018 and 2019 Statements of Financial Position (a/k/a Balance Sheet)
    • 2019 and 2020 YTD Profit & Loss Statements
    • Payroll register for 4th quarter 2019 through YTD 2020 including pay period dates, number of hours per pay period each employee worked, gross wages, withholdings, etc. OR Copy of 4th quarter 2019 and 1st and 2nd quarter 2020, GA Unemployment Form DOL-4N, Tax and Wage Report (with the exception of sole proprietors)
    • 4th quarter 2019, 1st and 2nd quarter 2020 941 IRS forms;
    • Copy of Annual Registration from Georgia Secretary of State’s office (with the exception of sole proprietors)
    • Copy of current business license (if you have one) issued by Cherokee County or a Cherokee County municipality (Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Nelson, Waleska, Woodstock). Note: Cherokee County does not require non-profits to hold a business license, but please submit yours if you have one.

Process For Obtaining A CAGE Code

Businesses are required to register with the Federal System for Award Management at SAM.gov to apply for/receive federal grant funds. Interested applicants should begin this process NOW, as it takes 2 or more business days to receive a DUNS number (required to request a CAGE code) and 7-10 business days to receive a CAGE code. Please note that this is a free process. If you have applied for/received federal grant funds before, you may already have a CAGE Code. (This process will take approximately 30 minutes.) When applying for a CAGE Code, make sure to do so strictly through SAM.GOV – other sites may charge. 

If you do not already have a CAGE code or DUNS number, follow the step by step instructions below. After you apply for your CAGE Code and while you are waiting to receive that number, you can submit an application without officially receiving your CAGE Code. Your application will be pending until you send your CAGE Code to grantinfo@cherokeega.org as soon as you receive it. Your CAGE Code must be approved prior to grant award.

Here’s the two part process:

  • Step 1 | First, verify or request your DUNS number (unique nine-digit identification number). Requesting a DUNS number takes about 10 minutes.

Check if you already have a DUNS number. If your organization has an existing Dun & Bradstreet number, you may already have a CAGE code. Applicants may review this information at cage.dla.mil or CLICK HERE.

Instructions to request DUN | Entities doing business with the U.S. government can receive a DUNS number FREE of charge and, under normal circumstances, within 1-2 business days when using the D&B web form. You may also contact D&B at 866-705-5711 or e-mail govt@dnb.com, if you do not have a DUNS number. Click here to request your DUNS number

*When entering your DUNS number, enter only the numbers; do not include dashes.

  • Step 2 | Register in SAM as an entity to receive your CAGE code.

Check if you already have a CAGE Code | CLICK HERE.

Instruction to request | Click the blue “Log In” button in the upper right corner (you will be redirected to Login.gov). Click “Sign in” and enter your login.gov email address and password. Click “Next.” You will be directed to the SAM Terms and Conditions. Click “Accept” to complete your log in.

Once you have successfully created an account and signed in, select “Entity Registrations” on the left side of your screen, and click on “Register New Entity” from the left side navigation pane. Then click “Start Registration” near the bottom of the registration overview page. If you are having trouble, contact the Federal Service Desk at 866.606.8220. 

Memorandum of Agreement and Grant Disbursement

Grant awardees will be required to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with COED and the Cherokee County CDBG office to ensure accountability of grant funds. The Memorandum will include:

  • The total grant amount;
  • How the funds will be disbursed;
  • Requirements for how the funds are to be used;
  • Agreement to the following accountability measures: monthly reporting of how the funds are being used and proof of rehiring/retaining Low to Moderate income positions. This reporting will be to the Cherokee County CDBG office for a period of 12 months following the award.

Funds will be disbursed following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement and upon documentation of fund expenditure.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Using data from the annual American Community Survey, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calculates a median family income for each metropolitan area and each nonmetropolitan county in the United States, annually, and publishes Area Median Income (AMI) Levels based on household composition. Cherokee County is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell GA MSA (Mean Statistical Area). Low-to-moderate income, or LMI, is defined as gross household income calculated at no more than 80% of AMI.

A: These CARES Act Funds were made available through the Department of Housing and Development (HUD). HUD’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, as imposed on HUD-funded grantees and sub-grantees, requires registration at SAM.gov to obtain a CAGE code.  If interested, the federal code of regulation pertaining to grantees is 2 CFR Part 200 Appendix I, Section D, paragraph 3 and 2 CFR Part 200 Appendix II, Section I pertaining to sub-grantees.

 

A: No. Getting a CAGE Code is a free process. Do not pay any money for this. See the CAGE Code section of this website for step-by-step instructions Apply at SAM.gov only. Do not utilize any third party websites. The Federal Service Desk (FSD) at 866-606-8220 is the helpline for Sam.gov.

A: Yes, your application will be accepted without having received your CAGE Code, but we expect that you will have begun the process. You will not be awarded funds without a submitted and approved CAGE Code. 

A: When received, please email your CAGE Code to grantinfo@cherokeega.org. Our staff will ensure it is added to your application.

A: It is crucially important to demonstrate that your business employs positions with salaries at or below the LMI threshold of $46,350.00 annually.  You will not be considered an eligible applicant if at least 70% of the positions you submit are not below this salary threshold.

A: Unfortunately, no. HUD guidelines require that 70% of retained, rehired, or created jobs submitted for consideration must meet these LMI thresholds.

A: Part time employees working at least 15/hours per week are eligible to include toward your LMI salary threshold positions. We will utilize a 40-hour work week in calculating FTE for part time positions.  For example, a 40-hour week employee meeting the salary requirements is equivalent to 1.0 FTE; a 20-hour week employee is equivalent to .5 FTE; a 15-hour week employee is equivalent to .375 FTE. For purposes of grant award, the greater the number of FT/FTE positions, the more favorable evaluation due to the greater impact on household income and the area economy.

A: Yes, you can apply for the grant. However, you cannot be awarded the grant if you haven’t spent all of your PPP or EIDL funds. Preference will be given to applicants who have not received PPP, EIDL or other federal funds.

A: That answer is based on the specific needs of your business. In either circumstance, grant assistance through this program is made available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  HUD requirements stipulate that awardees must incur and pay for eligible expenses before assistance is provided, or on a reimbursement basis. 

A: Appropriate documentation would include: vendor invoicing, company payroll registers and pay stubs, etc. and must be accompanied by verifiable proof of payment.  Check stubs and cancelled checks may be used to support payment of expenses as well as an employee(s) pay stub.  Note:  If a credit card is used to pay for expenses, the appropriate credit card statement with the eligible expense should be provided, along with a copy of the company check (or bank draft or other form of payment) to document proof of payment.  Online bill pay transactions must be able to document funds being liquidated from the business bank account.  Other, non-relevant bank transaction information, as well as account numbers, may be redacted when providing documentation. 

A: No, companies cannot count 1099 employees for this grant program.

A: Yes, provided you meet the LMI income threshold and can demonstrate economic injury to your business due to the pandemic.

A: Profit & Loss Statements and the company’s Balance Sheet for 2019.

A: The Schedule C should suffice. We’ll contact you if additional information is required.

A: We would like to work with you to ensure your application is complete and accurate. If changes need to be made,  please reach out to the team at grantinfo@cherokeega.org or call 770-528-4912.

A: No, you must have a current business license with Cherokee County or its municipalities to apply. If there are unusual or extenuating circumstances that prevented you from renewing your business license this year, please contact our office to discuss at 770-528-4912.

A:  Yes! Please submit your 2019 business license and the receipt for your 2020 business license. If your application is funded, we’ll just need you to provide the updated copy of your business license prior to grant disbursement.

A: Approximately one year from grant award.

A: This document, filed and updated annually with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, registers you as an active business. Visit https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/BusinessSearch and search for your company.

  • After you choose your company listing that indicates “Active/Compliance,” click on the button at the bottom of the page that says “Filing History;”
  • You’ll see Annual Registration under filing type;
  • Choose your current Annual Registration document;
  • Save the PDF to upload with your application.

A: Payroll for salaries, rent, utilities, vendors, PPE and other supplies and costs to ensure employee and customer safety. For example, you may submit your payroll registers or pay stubs to substantiate salaries; copies of paid rent/lease statements; copies of paid invoices for PPE or plexiglass; etc. 

A: No. Costs for reimbursement cannot have been incurred prior to January 21, 2020.  

Yes. You are reporting on the Low to Moderate Income position(s) that you have retained, rehired or created associated with this program. Those positions are expected to exist for a full year after receiving assistance.

A:  Typically, a grant award is for a program year. Twelve months is a meaningful benchmark to measure its performance and a requirement for HUD/CDBG funding.    

Apply

The application portal is open from Thursday, September 10 – Wednesday, September 30, 2020. You will need to create an account to begin your application. Start the process by clicking the button below.