Today is the deadline for COVID-19 grants

When I wrote in January that the final round of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) grants through Governor Abbott’s office was winding down, little did I know that there could be a significant number of unallocated funds left over.

With $180 million available in $20,000 grants to businesses that lost sales in 2020 or 2021, it seemed reasonable that 9,000 businesses would file and qualify for the grants.

I was wrong.

As a result, the Governor’s Office has launched its sixth and final phase of applications for these grants that provide a one-time reimbursement to Texas-based private companies negatively impacted by COVID-19.

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The change is massive. The initial grants reimbursed losses in 2020 or 2021 sales up to $20,000.

This new and improved final program is providing one-time reimbursements for up to $250,000 in losses as shown on a company’s IRS tax filings for 2020 and 2021. That was NOT a typo. The grants will reimburse a qualifying company’s losses up to $250,000.

Qualifying Grant Applicant Sectors

Since significant funds remain, the Texas Travel Industry Recovery Grants program is reopening the original categories for new applications. Texas-based, privately-owned companies may apply in these categories if they did not apply previously in the summer or fall.

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The new application period began Friday, September 1, and extends through this Friday, September 15. The primary beneficiaries will be the hospitality industry: restaurants, bars, hotels, motels, and B&Bs. Also eligible are breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, and wineries.

Shown below are the categories and the corresponding NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes (click chart to enlarge):

Please understand that if the NAICS code is only a few digits, those numbers are the starting digits in the company’s full code. Privately operated (non-government) venues and CVBs can apply, as can RV parks and campgrounds as well as arts, entertainment and recreation (even minor league baseball teams!).

The criteria are very specific. A qualifying business must:

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  • have a NAICS code that begins with or consists of the listed digits
  • have been in operation before January 20, 2020, and still be operating
  • operate within the state of Texas (the applicant may have other operations outside of Texas, but only the Texas businesses will qualify for the grant)
  • be either a privately-owned, for-profit business or a nonprofit organization, but it may NOT be a publicly held company listed on any stock exchange
  • have suffered negative economic impact due to Covid-19 (gross sales decline)

Critical criteria

In addition to showing lost sales, companies can help their causes by showing that they continued to pay rent, utilities, and employees. Applicants will need to document such expenses and any expenses they incurred to comply with social distancing and other precautions.

To qualify for the $250,000 reimbursement, a business must document at least that amount in expenses, which may include payroll, rent, utilities and maintenance.

The following documentation is critical to the application process:

  • IRS Form 941 for the most recent quarter filed for 2022 (signed and dated by the preparer and the company officer)
  • IRS tax documents for 2019, 2020, and 2021 (signed and dated by the preparer and the company officer)
  • Narrative that explains: How the applicant plans to apply the reimbursement funds if received, as well as proof (actual receipts) of any referenced expenses such as rent, utility bills, payroll, and/or contract labor; the negative impact suffered due to Covid-19; how budget expenditures addressed the identified need or impact and must emphasize how they were deployed in response to the disease itself or the harmful consequences of the economic disruptions.

A question commonly asked by applicants is, “Why does this grant program require a company official and the tax preparer to sign and date the tax forms? After all, the IRS accepts these for e-filing.”

The State of Texas has its own criteria and requires these signatures and dates. Any applicant submitting for the grant will be denied if the forms do not include signatures (not typed names) and dates.

For complete information on the program, please visit the Texas Travel Industry Recovery grant program site.

John Fletcher is the owner of Fletcher Consulting Public Relations, where he has successfully helped clients receive over $800,000 in government grants. His contact information is 817-205-2334 and his email address is [email protected].


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