COLUMBUS, Kan. — Cherokee County businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic may apply for up to $25,000 in funding through the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas grant program to aid in economic recovery.

Cherokee County recently received $4 million in SPARK funds, with $500,000 allocated to assist local businesses. Grants up to $25,000 can be awarded to each business to help deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Businesses have until 5 p.m. Sept. 18 to file an application.

“We worked on a plan at the local level of how to spend these funds, and obviously, we know businesses have been impacted,” said Janet Miller, Cherokee County Economic Development director. "We set aside about half a million dollars to assist businesses. Now, we’re looking at a process for folks to apply and access those funds.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced the SPARK task force to lead the state’s economic recovery earlier this year.

In July, the State Finance Council unanimously approved the public health, education and economic development proposals recommended by the executive committee of the task force for a total of $254,444,911.

“I want to thank the State Finance Council for approving these funds that will provide aid to Kansans who need it the most, help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate our economic recovery,” Kelly said in a statement. “Both rural and urban areas of our state will benefit from these dollars.”

Miller said businesses can apply for assistance for expenses related to dealing with COVID-19 incurred or planned to be incurred through the end of this year.

“It could be the personal protective equipment kind of purchases of Plexiglas or other things businesses had to do,” she said. “It could be for businesses that were forced to close for an extended period due to the stay-at-home orders. It can be used for lost revenue or expenses that they had to continue paying, even though their doors were closed. We can also utilize it for businesses who saw an increase in demand and want to be able to increase their capacity, so they can capitalize that and be better prepared.”

The grant provides funds to cover reasonable expenditures from March 1 through Dec. 30. Receipts or other documentation must be provided for each expenditure, and applicants may not include expenditures reimbursed by any other program.

Full program guidelines and the application may be downloaded at www.cherokeecountykansas.com/contact-us. Businesses that submitted proposals to the county's SPARK task force by Aug. 5 need only submit information that was not previously provided.

The remaining SPARK funding awarded to Cherokee County will be distributed to city and county governments, school districts, medical providers and emergency management.

This is the second major allocation of the more than $1.03 billion Kansas has received through the federal coronavirus relief fund, the governor’s office said. The state previously allocated $400 million of it to counties, according to The Associated Press.

Information

Businesses may contact Janet Miller at 620-762-0717 or jm@cherokeecountykansas.com for information on the SPARK program.

News reporter

Kimberly Barker is a news reporter for The Globe who covers Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, as well as Carl Junction and Webb City.