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Fairfax County approves $25 million in grants for small businesses

The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors said their goal is to award money to every business that applies.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passed a $25 million grant program Tuesday to help small businesses in the hopes of guaranteeing relief for all those who apply.

The program is called Fairfax RISE, or Relief Initiative to Support Employers, and it offers grants of up to $20,000.

The move comes after the county initially offered a $2.5 million microloan program in April that the Board Chairman said received nearly 2,000 applicants.

"We realized very quickly that we needed to put a whole lot more money into this," Chairman Jeffrey McKay said. "And frankly, we needed to set it up as a grant program to cut down the amount of paperwork and processing. Our businesses need help, and they need it now, and our county has realized and recognized that with this program." 

RELATED: Northern Virginia businesses devise reopening plans despite confusion over start date

Chairman McKay said the influx of applicants forced them to turn the loans into a lottery system, which he admits he did not think was fair.

That's why the Board of Supervisors decided to use some of the funding they received from the CARES Act to funnel $25 million into small businesses.

Here's who is eligible, per the county:

  • Must be established and have one or more location(s), including the principal place of business, in Fairfax County. Fairfax County includes the Towns of Herndon, Vienna, and Clifton. The cities of Fairfax and Falls Church are not included.
  • Have at least one and less than 50 total full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees across all locations.
  • Have a valid Business, Professional and Occupational Licenses (BPOL) issued prior to March 1, 2019. 

Non-profit owners have to meet the following requirements:

  • Have at least one and less than 50 total full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees across all locations. Have not received grant from the Fairfax County COVID Sustainability Grant Fund (Social Safety Net Funds)
  • Have an IRS Form 990 from 2018 or 2019

Independent contractors and sole proprietors are eligible if the following applies:

  • Live in Fairfax County and operate a business as a sole proprietor.  The cities of Fairfax and Falls Church are not included. 
  • Pay self-employment tax
  • Not currently receiving unemployment benefits

If business owners applied for the loan program, and were denied, Chairman McKay said they should apply for the grant. If owners were accepted into the lottery but hadn't received one, the Chair said they will work with them to transfer over the applications.

RELATED: Gov. Northam delays Phase 1 of reopening for Northern Virginia. Here's what that means

Credit: Ferlon Webster
Fairfax County businesses are preparing to reopen once they can enter phase one.


How much money can business owners expect?

That depends on how many employees the business has, per this funding structure:

  • Employees, 1 - 10: $10,000
  • Employees, 11 – 25: $15,000
  • Employees, 26 – 49: $20,000

If 2,000 business owners apply for the $25 million, in theory, each one could receive $12,500.

“We’re hoping that it’s sufficient, but frankly if it’s not, I know our board is ready to increase that amount so that we can fund hopefully every business that applies," Chairman McKay said.

He also said that, in an effort to support the county's most vulnerable businesses, they will be setting aside one third of the grant money to go to women, veteran, and minority-owned businesses.

“We’re trying to make sure that we’re helping those who fall through the cracks, those who have one hand tied behind their back in a conventional economy," Chairman McKay said. "Those are very valuable businesses, not only to our Fairfax County economy, but in a lot of cases, the culture, that we’ve created in terms of diversity.”

The county said in a press release that 32% of its businesses belong to women, veterans, and minorities, and they employ 80,000 people.

The grant application is scheduled to open in early June, but the Board is still working on a specific timeline.

RELATED: Virginia coronavirus updates: Northam finalizes details for parts of Va. entering Phase 1

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