Only 10% of CARES Act applicants issued grants as year-end deadline looms

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Round two of applications for small businesses in South Dakota opened this week, but thousands of businesses are still waiting to learn if they received any CARES Act grant money from the first round in October.

Mrs. Murphy’s Irish Gifts was closed for two and a half months this spring, a first in its 23 years of business. The closure took a big hit on its finances.

“We definitely know that our percentage loss is significant this year, so I assume we’ll be eligible,” owner Dick Murphy said. 

Murphy was one of 5,779 small business owners to apply for the CARES Act grants in South Dakota during the first round of applications in October.

“We did it ourselves, just like many small businesses, we do most all of the work ourselves,” Murhpy said. “And getting the data is hard for small businesses, we don’t always have all of the immediate numbers available, so it took a great deal of time to figure it out.”

After spending hours gathering all of the paperwork and calculations to submit the application, Murphy still doesn’t know if or when he might receive a grant.

“We haven’t really heard anything yet, we were told we had to redo some of the application,” Murphy said. 

“We’re still kind of in process with the businesses going back and forth if there was something missing that we’re asking for, if they have not submitted everything yet, it doesn’t mean they’re kicked out of the program,” Cassie Stoeser, the Finance Director with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development said. 

Stoeser says checking back in with applicants is one reason for the delay.

Out of 5,779 applications filed , the state has issued just 207 grants, with another 388 to be paid this week.

“The CRF dollars need to allocated by the end of the year,” Stoeser said. 

The governor set aside roughly $450 million of CARES Act funds for these small business grants, but with less than two weeks left till the spending deadline, only $68.7 million in grants will be paid out by the end of this week.

Stoeser says the consultant group they hired to go over these grants is working to try and get to all of these applications before the deadline passes. 

“We don’t want to leave money on the table and we don’t want to leave businesses in the dark either but the concern is always there, so our contractor is adding staff to help with surge capacity in this time so we don’t have that issue,” Stoeser said. 

“It is a little concerning that it’s taking this long,” Murphy said. 

Murphy says he hopes more businesses that applied in October will get some good news from this grant program over the holiday season.

“Anything will be appreciated,” Murphy said. “If any of these grant programs can help those small businesses stay in their community, I’m so glad that there are such Band-Aids if you will that can bridge them into the next year.”

By the December 20th deadline for round two of applications, Guidehouse, the consultant company reviewing the applications, will have the second round of applications added to its list.

But the state says these applicants don’t have a deadline to be paid out. 

“What we’re looking at is eligibility approval by the end of the year, we can continue financial analysis and make those payments into the new year, but we’re verifying eligibility prior to the year-end,” Stoeser said. 

Stoeser said all 5,779 applications submitted in October have been reviewed in some way, but thousands are still pending. 

“If businesses are looking for the status of their application, log into their application portal, click on applications then their application number and see the status in there, if it’s still in review, it will show submitted, if it says returned, then the application is missing something,” Stoeser said. 

If you have any questions about the status of a grant application or how to apply for the second round, you can call 605-937-7243 or email or visit their website.

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