Hamilton County will fund a third round of small business assistance using leftover funding from the federal CARES Act. County commissioners voted Thursday to approve the new funding plan that includes $4.35 million for the small business program.
The plan also allocates about a million dollars for navigators to help people find and apply for help, including technical assistance for business owners.
“We wanted to make sure that as more small business relief hits the street that we do more than just tell people to call various numbers to get in the queue,” said County Administrator Jeff Aluotto.
The Freestore Foodbank is slated to receive a million dollars for food assistance.
The increased funding for navigators leaves the county short on full funding to replace the county’s phone system, which is needed because the health department has gotten a high volume of calls related to the pandemic and vaccinations.
County administrators initially recommended $800,000 for the phone system replacement, but that’s reduced to $200,000 based on feedback from commissioners.
Aluotto says the remainder of that cost could come from another round of federal stimulus, or from yet another reallocation of CARES money.
For example, $500,000 is reserved for an alternative care facility in case the hospital system gets overwhelmed.
“We are getting to the point in the path of this pandemic where I’m very hopeful that we don’t have to talk about opening an alternative care facility,” Aluotto said. “But we’re not quite taking our foot off of that particular accelerator yet.”
Funding currently allocated for COVID-19 testing could also shift to vaccination efforts in the near future.
Read the full reallocation plan below: