CHADRON – Chadron is providing $65,000 to a pair of local programs to help local businesses survive the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The city council on Monday approved $60,000 in city micro-grants to businesses and $5,000 to fund a gift card matching program of Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation.
The council had created the micro-grant program, funded through the city’s LB 840 economic development sales tax, 2 week ago at $30,000 with a maximum of $1,000 per business but received 74 applications – 69 of which met eligibility rules.
The city’s LB 840 fund increases about $3,000 a month, but a tentatively approved $282,000 grant expected to be finalized later this year leaves only about $62,000 currently available
That led to a recommendation to fund all 69 applicants on a pro-rated basis of $869. Council member and businessman George Klein told his colleagues the approach seemed the simplest and fairest.
Councilman Mark Werner suggested dipping deeper into the LB 840 fund for $69,000 since the difference is expected to be more than covered by the time the big grant is actually awarded, but the rest of the council felt more comfortable with the pro-rate approach.
Funding for the gift card match, dubbed the Magic Multiplier, would come from Chadron’s share of what are essentially dividends from ACE, the Public Alliance For Community Energy natural gas program.
NNDC Executive Director Deb Cottier said the Magic Multiplier idea is very simple – when a customer buys a gift card or gift certificate from a local eatery or other business and brings it in to her office, the business will get a check for a matching amount.
Cottier said the idea is getting revenue to the business now with the promise of future activity when the gift certificate or card is used since the total spent generally exceeds that amount. As a result, the certificate of card can’t be used at the time of initial purchase.
After input from the council, the limits for the Magic Multiplier were put at a maximum of $50 per card or certificate and a maximum of $300 per business. The program began yesterday.