Small businesses in rural Nevada that have innovative ideas or are in need of financial assistance are being encouraged to apply for funding from a $500,000 grant.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development awarded half a million dollars in CARES Act funding for the program, which is being targeted at rural communities outside of the state’s major metro areas, according to GOED spokesman Greg Bortolin.
“This one is aimed at rural businesses outside of Clark County, the City of Reno and the City of Sparks,” Bortolin said. “The city manager in Wells is actually helping to administer the grant.”
Applicants must have less than $2 million in annual sales and also have been impacted by COVID-19. Interested businesses can apply for the funds, which come in the form of forgivable loans up to $25,000, through the Rural Business Assistance Program.
Successful applicants will go through a nine-month online business training and mentorship program through the Audacity Institute. The training will require a three-hour commitment per month and include peer support from a group of Nevada rural business owners, according to the Audacity Institute.
The program is aimed at helping put a spotlight on small businesses that people might not know about.
“We met dozens of businesses that are not visible on main street — garage tinkerers, home-based canners and quilters, and students building apps,” said Kelly Northridge, managing partner with the Audacity Institute. “We believe that great ideas come from anywhere and encourage all small business.”
Outsized role for small businesses
The pandemic has hit small businesses hard, according to GOED. Nationwide, about 800,000 small businesses have closed shop since the arrival of COVID-19.
Small businesses play an especially outsized role in Nevada, where they account for 99% of all businesses statewide, as well as 42% of the workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. Nevada’s high share of small businesses make initiatives such as the Rural Business Assistance Program important for the state, said Jolene Supp, Wells City Manager.
“Training for small business owners is so badly needed,” Supp said. “They have the dream and the desire. Training and mentorship will ensure long-term sustainability and success for small business, downtowns and city tax bases.”
The $500,000 is part of $14 million in CARES Act funding awarded to Nevada to benefit rural areas, particularly low- and moderate-income residents.
Online applications will be accepted through September 3 at 11:59 p.m. Applications are available at RubaNV.com in English and Spanish.
For application assistance, contact the Audacity Insitute by calling at 775-470-7789 or emailing [email protected].
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Like this content? Support local journalism with an RGJ digital subscription.