Business leaders urge governor to provide grant relief to small businesses


Legislature provided governor with the authority to issue grants through SB 241

ANCHORAGE – Alaska business leaders are urging Gov. Mike Dunleavy to use the authority provided to him by the legislature last month and provide grant relief for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, the governor is planning on disbursing the vast majority of federal relief dollars for small businesses through Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) loan program that is still in development, rather than through grants.

“Businesses need emergency operating grants, and they need them yesterday,” Rep. Zack Fields (D-Anchorage) said. “The governor should use the authority given to him by the Legislature to issue grants to small businesses instead of reinventing the wheel with a complicated program that mirrors existing federal loans.”

Members of the Anchorage Economic Resilience Task Force recently wrote an opinion article calling on the State of Alaska to use CARES Act funding for grants rather than loans.

“Asking businesses – particularly small shops – to take on debt after nearly two months of closures puts them in an incredibly precarious position,” the coalition of business and community leaders wrote. “We urge the governor and the Legislature to reconsider the proposed use of funds to provide grants instead of loans. In doing so, they could prevent a generational loss of businesses and non-profit groups that currently threatens Alaska’s economy.”

Reps. Zack Fields, Ivy Spohnholz, Gabrielle LeDoux, Kelly Merrick, Dan Ortiz, Grier Hopkins, Adam Wool, Laddie Shaw, Harriet Drummond, and Chris Tuck introduced the amendment to Senate Bill 241 that provides the administration with grantmaking authority through the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED), in partnership with local economic development organizations.

The amendment passed the House, 33-2, and was included in the final version of SB 241. Legislators wrote the grant amendment following consultation with DCCED, AIDEA, and numerous small businesses and business associations.

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CONTACT
Austin Baird
Communications Director
Alaska House Majority
(907) 465-6791
Austin.Baird@akleg.gov

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