According to the Province, there are 4000 small to medium size businesses in Fort McMurray that need help after May’s massive wildfire.
To that end, two recovery programs are being set up: One for repairs and cleanup, and the other for payroll expenses.
The “Support to Small Business Recovery Program” is a grant that won’t have to be re-paid, and it’s funded by all three levels of government and the Canadian Red Cross. Payroll assistance is being handled by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
But, Alberta’s Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous says businesses will only have to apply at one place for funding.
“The great thing about this is it’s really going to be a one-stop-shop.” says Bilous. “And so whether small businesses are applying for… wage assistance that will be coming from the Regional Municipality, or if they’re needing supports for equipment rentals, or recovery, or cleanup, it will be one place. It will be one application. Businesses are not having to go in a variety of different directions.”
Bilous says applications will be handled on a case management basis, with the Red Cross is currently hunting down a third party to do the assessments.
“We’re really going to have the experts sitting down with businesses identifying their needs, and they will determine how much a business will receive, up to the $20,000 in the one bucket.”
Bilous says local businesses that plan to re-start by the end of the year who have 50 or fewer workers are eligible, and hopes to have cheques being cut by September. But the first step is to register with the Back to Business Resource Centre. (ms)