State begins new grant program for business, nonprofits

Initiative offers grants up to $10K for changes made in pandemic

Maui County’s small businesses and nonprofits that were financially impacted by COVID-19 have an opportunity to apply for reimbursement grants up to $10,000 through a new program launched by the state.

Gov. David Ige announced the Hawaii Business Pivot Grant program on Tuesday, which has a $25 million budget that could benefit up to 2,500 companies statewide. The grant application period starts Thursday and ends Nov. 23, as funds are available. The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii will administer the program.

“The objective of the program is to help small and mid-sized businesses with financial and training resources to help them adjust to the new economic environment brought by the pandemic,” Ige said during a news conference Tuesday. “In recent months, businesses had to show creativity and grit just to survive. In other words, they had to pivot from one way of working to something radically different.”

Funded by CARES Act money, the program offers grants up to $10,000 for eligible vendors to cover costs incurred while making changes to their business model and operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses must have been made since March 20 and may include investment in e-commerce, web development and professional services related to pivoting a business model.

Other eligible expenses for reimbursement may include purchases of hygiene stations, personal protective equipment and other supplies. Expenses made after Oct. 1 to reconfigure spaces to meet social distancing protocols may also be reimbursed.

“This program helps to ensure that every penny of our federal coronavirus relief funds are directly delivered to beneficiaries who need it most,” Ige said.

To qualify for the Hawaii Business Pivot Grant, companies and nonprofits must also be registered in the state, have fewer than 100 employees and operate in a physical commercial space; home-based businesses are not eligible. Owners must be Hawaii residents.

“Companies that can successfully pivot will not only survive but thrive,” Ige said. “This grant helps take some of the pressure off businesses so they can figure out how to pivot in this new environment.”

In addition to the grant reimbursement, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii will offer technical assistance to companies through workshops, webinars and training, as well as consultation to help businesses adjust operations.

The chamber will also provide an online marketplace for companies to access products and services to support operational changes. These costs will be eligible for reimbursement under the grant program.

“We already know that many of our small businesses have implemented huge changes these last few months,” said chamber President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “We hope this grant will ease the burden on companies who are making the shift, while inspiring others to rethink and re-imagine how they can add to the resilience of their business.”

For more information about the program and application requirements, visit HawaiiBizPivot.org. Applications may take seven to 10 days to process.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.


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