Williamsburg sets aside $1M to help businesses affected by COVID-19


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — In a city where tourism is king, the City of Williamsburg is hoping to help keep cash in the community until the tourists can return.

During the Williamsburg City Council virtual meeting held April 30, three budget flexibility resolutions were unanimously approved including one to help local small businesses during the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The grants will help the businesses offset the financial hardships as a result of the pandemic and the application process opened Monday, May 4. Information on the process can be found online.

“In March, the Council deferred the payment of meals and lodging taxes until May 1. Now, the Council has taken further action to create a program that offers grants to eligible applicants equal to half of their paid 2019 Business, Professional and Occupational Tax,” according to city officials.

The businesses eligible for some of the $1 million in grant funding have to be locally-owned and loss criteria include being forced to close the business or having reduced revenue.

Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to those who qualify and apply for relief before the June 1 deadline. Awards are expected to be processed by August 31, according to the statement released.

Any money not awarded that was put toward the grants will go back to the Tourism Fund.

The City Council also approved that Tourism Development Grant funds not spent will go toward offsetting the operating deficit and revenue loss at the close of fiscal year 20 due to the virus.

Additionally, the voting location for May 19 City Council elections has been moved for the Matoaka and Stryker voting precincts.

Voting will be in a drive-thru manner to allow for proper and safe social distancing measures and will be located at the Williamsburg Fire Station at 440 North Boundary Street in Williamsburg.

Lastly, a resolution was approved directing city staff to apply for a state Department of Housing and Community Development Block Grant. The total requested in the grant will be $165,203.

“The grant would permit the city to be reimbursed for some costs of assisting with emergency housing and food for some residents during the COVID-19 state of emergency,” said city officials.

The grant program requires two public hearings, one was on April 30 and the second is scheduled for May 14.

City Council meetings are streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.

More information can be found online.

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