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Legislative leaders have approved an additional $40 million for the Arkansas Ready for Business program, bringing the total to $55 million in grants for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The additional $40 million was approved during an emergency meeting Sunday, Senator Keith Ingram of West Memphis said. He is the Senate Minority Leader.
Initially, $15 million was put in the Arkansas Ready for Business program, but immediately after it began accepting applications more than 2,300 businesses applied for over $36 million in aid.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission website is set to accept applications tomorrow and Wednesday, May 5th and 6th, Ingram said.
The chairmen of the state Legislative Council and its peer subcommittee agreed Sunday to appropriate more money for businesses to buy protective equipment for employees and customers.
The agreement sets aside 75% of the money for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and 15% for female or minority-owned businesses, Ingram said.
The AEDC website is at this address:
Later this week legislators will review the program to decide whether it will need more funding.
All use of funds from the program will be audited to ensure the money was used for its intended purpose.
The program -- Arkansas Ready for Business -- was launched last week before the required approval of legislative leaders.
Ingram said that he hoped the additional $40 million would be enough to fund the applications that were received last week and any applications submitted by businesses that were not aware of the program.
An AEDC official said that businesses that submitted applications last week do not have to re-apply if their application was accepted.