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Borough CARES Money for Businesses Nearly Gone

Fairbanks North Star Borough

Money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act must be spent by December 31. The Fairbanks North Star Borough has been disbursing its share to local businesses.

The borough was passed almost 25 million dollars from the congressional act, and it is all nearly handed out through three grant programs. About half the money, 12-million dollars, was designated for health providers.
A much smaller amount was set aside to reimburse businesses for PPE. This Personal Protection Equipment Grant (PPEG) is for businesses and non-profits that spent money on PPE for employees or patrons. It was a much smaller grant – only $1,500 to each business.
But the biggest chunk of money was to be spread across the borough’s economy through the Business Interruption Grant, or BIG. It was originally set up to give about 600 businesses $15,000 each. But only 200 companies applied, so in November, the borough increased the amount to $30,000, and FNSB Mayor Bryce Ward says the applications came in.
“We had more requests than we had funding. However, as we have been with knowing through those applications, some of them have been removed because they were not compliant. So that frees up more money, which means that we are able to do more of the grants that we have in the queue.”
459 applications have been received and so far, 237 have been awarded. The borough hired a consulting firm to process the applications.
“We have a third-party reviewer that looks at applications for eligibility, and then we have a review of the receipts that were submitted and the expenditures to basically bill back, to make sure that folks were compliant with the cares act funding requirements.”
141 applications are being processed. When that is finished, it is not likely there will be any money left over, but the Assembly is looking at an allocation to the non-profit Explore Fairbanks, which is the main tourism and convention office in the region.
“If there’s anything left on the table, then we are made able to make an allocation to Explore Fairbanks, based on, again, eligible expenses or, we have an ability to make an additional allocation to the school district.”
The Assembly meets Thursday evening at 6 p.m.
14 applications were cancelled or withdrawn. 5 were not approved because the request did not comply with the CARES Act restrictions.