Open for business

Small businesses in Mississippi directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic have the opportunity to get some help from the state.

An application period has started for what is being called “Back to Business Mississippi,” a grant program enacted with the passage of Senate Bill 2772 and signed by Gov. Tate Reeves on May 20.

With the grant program, businesses with 50 or fewer employees may be helped recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, including operating expenses and salaries.

The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is charged with accepting applications and they are now accepting applications from businesses for grant money. A website MDA operates called www.backtobusinessms.org has links to start the application process.

According to the website, for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, a partnership or a sole proprietorship are eligible to apply for the grants. The companies must have been in business on March 1 but suffered a business interruption when the pandemic began in the state.

Out-of-state companies are not eligible for the grants, which are available to those businesses where a controlling interest is owned by one or more Mississippi residents, whether individual resident citizens or Mississippi domestic business entities.

Eligible companies must have also filed state taxes for 2018 or 2019, or, for an eligible business formed on or after Jan. 1, intends to file Mississippi taxes for the tax year 2020, unless exempt under Section 27-7-29, Section 27-13-63 or other applicable provision of law.

Those who apply for the grants must also operate a business where customers or employees actually go into a physical premise, conduct business on customer premises, or have an owner who is an active participant in the day-to-day operations of the business.

The 50-employee full-time (FTE) limit for eligible businesses must be as of March 1 and the business can’t be a subsidiary of a business with more than 50 FTEs; is not part of a larger business enterprise with more than 50 FTEs and is not owned by a business with more than 50 FTEs.

Other restrictions are that the business not be involved in advancing partisan political activities, does not directly lobby federal or state officials and has not employed or otherwise worked with a lobbyist in any way at any point during 2020.

More information is found on the website www.backtobusinessms.org, or for help with the application, call 1-800-462-9980 or 601-228-1774.