Clovis announces second round of CARES Act recommendations
Last updated 12/19/2020 at 3:57pm
CLOVIS — In happier years, the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce finds its most important work comes in promoting businesses and hosting events for residents and visitors alike.
In what nobody would term a happy year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chamber Executive Director Ernie Kos said the chamber may have done some of its most crucial and rewarding work ever in helping keep businesses afloat. Kos provided somewhat of a denouement during Thursday’s Clovis city commission meeting with the second round of CARES Act grant recommendations.
The city has been at work processing the 104 recommendations for the second-round funding since the application period closed Dec. 4, and City Finance Director LeighAnn Melancon anticipates most if not all of the qualifying businesses will receive their checks before 2020 closes out.
Kos said the process -- which ultimately led to the city awarding $4.2 million in state grants to local businesses -- was intense, and credited the work of nearly 30 volunteers and staff at the chamber and the Small Business Development Center.
The second round drew 133 applicants — 118 first-time applicants and 15 who also applied in the second round. Of the 15 two-time applicants, one was deemed eligible for a second-round award.
Second-round awards ranged from $86.69 for Range Movement, a Pile Street gym that opened in June, and $42,851.78 for Clovis’ two Subway locations.
“It’s been truly eye-opening to see the effect the pandemic has had,” Kos said, “but it's been a fulfilling process for all of us involved.”
According to a spreadsheet the chamber supplied to the city, a total of $2.18 million in preliminary recommendations were calculated by the chamber applying a matrix score to applications. To fit the available funding, final recommendations were 52% of preliminary recommendations.
The city added a second round for funding requests by instituting a cap of $100,000 on awards, which drew ire from a few applicants who had submitted expenses incurred for two to four times that amount.
Clovis hotelier Danny Jariwala had three of his businesses funded by the grants, with two of the awards capped at the $100,000 amount. He called in to the virtual meeting to say he was initially upset about the cap, but has since had a change of heart.
“By capping 13 businesses,” Jariwala said, “it could help 104 more businesses. I would take that any day. I could have been one of those businesses in the second round.”
Sandra Taylor Sawyer, executive director of the SBDC, said there were plenty of volunteers she wanted to thank but many refused to be publicly credited.
“This is important, and it was great to be able to bring $4 million into the city of Clovis,” Taylor Sawyer said. “This has been a very rewarding experience. I'm not liking the circumstances we had to do it under, but I'm thankful for the opportunity.”
Raymond Mondragon of Eastern Plains Council of Governments also updated commissioners on CARES Act funding that was specifically put to rent, utilities and child care for individuals. Of the $70,000 in grant awards, Mondragon said, rent was by far the largest category with $49,469.92 awarded. The requests were 71% for rent, 17% for electric bill help and 5% each for water and child care.
“You guys touched many hearts,” Mondragon said. “You helped house a lot of people, kept their water going and helped with their childcare.”
The council received 144 applicants, with 102 deemed eligible. Other cases, Mondragon said, EPCOG tried to find other resources to help them.
“We wished we would have helped a lot more,” Mondragon said. “Some of the stories were heartbreaking.”