Kansas officials announce new initiatives to aid businesses in COVID-19 shutdown

Posted at 10:15 AM, Mar 20, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas officials gathered Friday to announce several changes and initiatives to aid businesses and employees affected by the shutdown caused by COVID-19.

One of the main targets for aid was small business and hospitality businesses.

Gov. Laura Kelly believes the state will qualify for disaster relief from the Small Business Associated.

The paperwork was filed earlier in the week, and officials expect the SBA disaster declaration Friday or Saturday.

The declaration would allow businesses to receive up to $2 million in low-interest loans.

The state also identified $6.3 million in BLOC grants that are in communities currently that can assist businesses in those communities.

Officials have streamlined the process to apply for those grants.

Gov. Kelly also announced the creation of the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency (HIRE) Fund.

In the fund, $5 million is available for businesses with 100 or fewer employees to apply for a bridge loan to keep them afloat.

Each business can receive a maximum of $20,000 from the fund. Applications will be approved within 72 hours and money will be distributed within 48 hours after approval.

Information about the HIRE Fund can be found online.

Officials also pointed out that the number of unemployment filings jumped by around 10,000 in the last week.

Last week, there were 1,296 claims. This week, there were 11,355 claims.

Officials urge anyone filing for unemployment to do so online, since wait times on the phone line are extremely long.

Unemployment qualifications have been loosened, and some people may even qualify if they are working reduced hours due to COVID-19.

Gov. Kelly also signed a bill allowing unemployment benefits to expand from a 16 week period to a 26 week period.

The officials assured that Kansas banks are safe and sound, but still advise not taking out large amounts of money to battle closures or unemployment.