Help is on the way for small businesses in Halifax County impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible business owners now have the option of applying for the Halifax County Small Business Recovery Assistance Fund.

The South Boston Town Council voted unanimously at its Monday evening meeting to administer the Halifax County Small Business Recovery Assistance Fund. Councilman Bill Snead made the motion.

“This is very similar to the loan fund that we did with the small businesses in South Boston,” South Boston town manager Tom Raab told council. “This is important. It’s half a million dollars for all the businesses in Halifax County, including South Boston.”

The maximum amount of funding that an individual can receive is $10,000, so the funding would help an anticipated 50 businesses. The funding will allow businesses to “regain and sustain operations, ideally helping them retain existing staff, fill vacant positions, create new jobs, and become more efficient and resilient,” according to the fund’s program design.

Rent and mortgage are the only eligible expenses for the maximum benefit amount of $10,000. Businesses also can apply for up to $5,000 in funding for COVID-19 related retooling and technology activities including technology upgrades, sanitization, and job training, classes and/ or technical assistance.

Eligibility criteria for businesses is as follows: locally or regionally owned, has 20 or fewer employees, has been impacted by COVID-19, has not received federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act assistance for the same purpose as the small business recovery assistance fund request, opened their business by March 15 of this year, and provides local or regional services.

Applications will be reviewed and funds will be distributed to businesses on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted.

A project review team will assess the applications. The members of the review team are Raab, South Boston finance director Mickey Wilkerson, Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston, Halifax town manager Carl Espy, Lin Hite, regional director of the Longwood Small Business Development Center, Ricky Short, member of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, Virginia Byrd, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center program coordinator, and Sangi Cooper, senior planner for the Southside Planning District Commission.

Town council also completed the following:

• Authorized an agreement between Raab and Earl Howerton, executive director of the Southside Outreach Group, for the town’s loan of $790,204 to the Southside Outreach Group for the Poplar Creek Homes Project. The project involves the construction of 16 duplexes for low to mid-income individuals and families in the town’s Poplar Creek Street area and has a total price tag of about $6 million. Raab said the pandemic has slowed progress on the project, but he still hopes to have at least 90% of the project completed by December 2021.

• Heard an action report from Raab on 10 condemned unsafe structures in the town of South Boston.

• Heard a report from Raab on the town’s proposed use of CARES Act funding. Raab told council he anticipates the town will receive a total of $1,328,250.18 in CARES Act funding, and $664,125.09 of those funds must be used by December. The proposed uses of the funding include updating the Armory building’s restrooms with touchless fixtures, implementing touchless fixtures at the town hall, library, public work and police departments; enlarging the council chambers, changing loans to town business to grants, purchasing new garbage trucks and trash cans for safer pickup, and police department e-tickets in patrol cars.

• Confirmed Fields Thomas to a new four-year term on the Halifax County Service Authority Board.

Business wishing to apply for the Halifax County Small Business Recovery Assistance Fund may submit an interest form at https://forms.gle/KDvzNrdCUViXtmXg7.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.