OGDEN — The state of Utah is promoting yet another COVID-19 economic recovery measure, but the new program differs from others in that it aims explicitly to bring customers into the doors of small businesses.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development began accepting applications this week for the new “Shop in Utah” program. Funded through $25 million in federal CARES Act money, GOED Media Relations Manager Tony Young said the effort strives to help keep Utah businesses afloat by providing grants for companies to give discounts and coupons to their patrons.
The program is available to Utah businesses that experienced a revenue decline due to the pandemic, but 75% of the funds will be distributed to businesses with 250 employees or less, Young said. To be eligible, companies must demonstrate revenue loss, have been in operation on or before March 1, 2020, and have employees physically located in Utah.
Young said grant amounts can’t exceed a business’s COVID-19-related revenue decline and is capped at $50,000 per business. Whatever amount a business receives, at least 50% of it must be used to offer coupons, discounts or other financial incentives to customers.
For example, Young said, if a qualifying business lost $30,000 in revenue since the coronavirus pandemic began, it could create a discount or promotion worth a total of $15,000 in savings to its customers to claim a Shop In Utah grant worth $30,000. Young said when the Utah Legislature approved the program, it was decided the majority of funds should go to small business owners, hence the 75% allocation in that direction.
GOED Executive Director Val Hale said the grant should help consumers save money, making them more likely to patronize businesses, thereby stimulating the economy.
Applications are being accepted at utahgoed.info/shop-in-utah. The grant program information and application are also available at coronavirus.utah.gov. Young said applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and the program will remain open until all grant funds are appropriated. Shop In Utah grant checks will be distributed on a rolling basis beginning the first week of August.
According to a report from the Brookings Institution, small business revenue in Utah saw a 25% decline between March 13 and April 25, compared to revenues from January.