Malheur County officials are processing applications for state money to help businesses survive the impact of the Covid pandemic. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – Malheur County officials said Monday that 68 local companies have applied for a total of $1.5 million in county Covid relief program – double what is available.

The county received just $768,183 in state grant funds to be awarded to local businesses. More than half of the applications are from the hospitality industry, officials said.

The Malheur County Court will likely decide next week which firms will get an award.

The deadline to apply was Wednesday.

An informal committee of including County Counsel Stephanie Williams, Craig Geddes, director of environmental health, County Planner Eric Evans, Lorinda DuBoise, county chief administrative officer, County Commissioner Larry Wilson and Commissioner-elect Ron Jacobs will consider how to prioritize the funding requests.

The informal committee met early Monday. The committee’s next meeting isn’t scheduled.

Officials said that based on Gov. Kate Brown’s guidance, the priority for the local money will be the restaurant and lodging industry and businesses required to close because of the governor’s Covid restrictions.

The relief program is geared to help businesses in the hospitality industry, merchants impacted by the recent Covid freezes and small businesses along with women, Black, indigenous, people of color and tribal-owned firms.

The county said there are 150 eligible businesses just in the hospitality industry in the county.

Officials said the county court will most likely decide on eligible applications on Wednesday, Dec. 30.

The relief is scheduled to be dispensed in the form of a grant, with the amount based on a businesses’ number of full-time employees and may include up to $5,000 per worker.

To qualify for the program, a business must be based in Malheur County and, according to the county, “demonstrate a one-month decline in sales of 25% or more, incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, between March 1, 2020 and November 30, 2020, as compared against the same period of time in 2019.”

Previous coverage:

County set to release more than $700,000 in relief funds for local businesses

Applications for business relief funds pour into Malheur County

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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