HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock says thousands of Montanans are applying for new emergency grants aimed at helping those hit hardest by COVID-19 – and some have already been approved to receive assistance.
Bullock made the announcement during a news conference Friday.
Earlier this week, the state announced nine new grant programs, with a total of up to $123 million available to individuals, businesses and organizations. It was the first round of emergency spending funded through the federal CARES Act.
The application website for the new grants opened Thursday morning. Bullock said 2,000 applications had been started within 15 minutes.
As of Friday, more than 5,500 small businesses in Montana had applied for just one program: the Montana Business Stabilization Grant. The grant will provide up to $10,000 for businesses with 50 or fewer employees that have lost revenue due to COVID-19. Bullock said 150 of the applicants have been approved for funding.
“It’s clear from the thousands of businesses applying for one program alone that Montana and Montana businesses need support getting through this difficult time,” he said. “The agencies operating these grants, have enlisted additional staff to review applications and get the funding out as quickly as possible.”
More than 460 businesses have applied for a grant aimed at helping companies produce items and services to fight the pandemic, and 270 businesses applied for to help food and agriculture businesses improve food systems. More than 400 people signed up for emergency housing assistance, and more than 600 nonprofit organizations asked for funding to help them retain their programs and services.
Another grant program offers funding for local and tribal health departments and urban Indian clinics to support their coronavirus response – especially expanded contact tracing. 41 agencies have already applied.
Bullock said health officials have tested more than 2,000 people identified through contact tracing. He said that includes at least 219 who tested positive for COVID-19 – almost half of the state’s reported infections.
“These results certainly show that their efforts to identify and quarantine have helped lead us to where we are today in our state,” said Bullock.
You can find full information about all the emergency grant programs, including how to apply, on the Montana Department of Commerce website (https://commerce.mt.gov/Coronavirus-Relief). The website says the application system is experiencing some intermittent issues due to high traffic.