Utah Legislature Approves New Initiatives to Help Reactivate Economy
Several new initiatives that will help reactivate Utah’s economy were approved in H.B. 5010 during the Utah Legislature’s 5th special session of 2020, held June 18 and 19. The following are highlights of legislative programs that utilize federal CARES Act funds and focus on Utah economic recovery. The Legislature amended and assigned initiatives to the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to implement and manage.
“These initiatives will help boost Utah’s economy and help keep Utahns safe,” said Val Hale, GOED’s executive director. “We’re grateful for the federal CARES Act funds and that the Legislature has entrusted us with administering these important programs. We will use these funds most efficiently and effectively. We hope that companies and individuals that qualify will take advantage of these pandemic recovery initiatives.”
COVID-19 Commercial Rental Assistance Program Updates
As part of S.B. 3006, the COVID-19 Commercial Rental Assistance Program (ComRent) includes $40 million in commercial property rental assistance. GOED is currently administering the grants providing rental relief to Utah small businesses — including nonprofits, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed persons — that have lost revenue due to measures taken to minimize the public’s exposure to COVID-19.
Program metrics as of June 22, 2020:
- Applications started: 2,897
- Full applications submitted: 1,588
- Grant funds used: $3,074,810
- Average check: $2,702
- Most requested sectors: Retail, food and beverage, healthcare
GOED communicated and worked with various stakeholders from rural counties, multicultural partners, and commercial real estate sectors. The agency then coordinated with the Legislature to request changes to the program.
The following is a list of recent changes:
- Restructured the revenue loss percentage adjustments:
- 30% to 44.9% revenue loss — up to 50% of the rent amount may be awarded per month
- 45%+ revenue loss — up to 100% of the rent amount may be awarded per month
- Removed the PPP award adjustment
- Extended from single month’s rent to two month’s rent
- Maximum award raised from $10,000 to $15,000
- Entities with multiple locations maximum award increased to $30,000 and $5,000 per location
- Adjusted small business definition from 100 employees maximum to 100 full-time employees (FTE; that’s 100 employees at 40 hours per week)
- Removed unnecessary documentation requirements
There’s no need for companies to re-apply for the ComRent grant. Those who have already applied will be automatically reconsidered. If they qualify for additional grant money, checks will be mailed beginning June 30.
To learn more about the state’s COVID-19 Commercial Rental Assistance Program, visitutahgoed.info/comrent. Applications for commercial rental assistance will be open again by July 1, after the program revisions have been modified in the application software.
COVID-19 Impacted Businesses Grant Program
This $25 million initiative provides grants to businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To qualify for this “Shop In Utah” grant, businesses must offer a discount or other offer with an estimated value to consumers of at least 50% of the grant amount. GOED must award at least 75% of grant funds to Utah small businesses (companies with 250 or fewer full-time employees).
Tourism COVID-19 Recovery
This $12 million initiative directs the Utah Office of Tourism, housed within GOED, to respond to the health emergency through state and regional marketing to increase tourism throughout the state. The Office of Tourism is authorized to work with national parks on transportation solutions to facilitate the quality and accessibility of the visitor experience and other activities intended to stimulate tourism throughout the state.
COVID-19 Displaced Worker Grant Program
This $9 million initiative, called “Learn In Utah,” provides training for workers displaced due to COVID-19 by funding GOED’s Utah Works program within Talent Ready Utah. This initiative includes support for the Utah System of Higher Education’s Custom Fit program and several other workforce training programs to provide education and training to displaced workers. As part of this initiative, the Department of Workforce Services will create a dashboard to identify unemployment and job opening trends to match workers with job opportunities.
COVID-19 PPE Support Grant Program
This $5 million initiative, called “Safe In Utah,” provides grants to businesses to improve workplace safety for workers and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic through measures such as PPE purchases, workplace redesigns, signage, and technology solutions that allow for distance working. The grants are capped per business at the lower amount of 1) $100 per full-time equivalent employee, or 2) the actual expenses a company incurs in taking these health and safety measures. GOED must award at least 75% of grant funds to small businesses.
COVID-19 Outreach and Education Program
This $1 million initiative, known as “Healthy In Utah,” is for a public information campaign to encourage healthy activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as following current CDC, state, and local health guidelines, and not forgoing other preventive or urgent medical care.