Tarrant County commissioners debate how to disperse $30 million for small business relief

Tarrant County leaders discussed a $30 million grant for small business relief.

Over the last two weeks, Tarrant County has seen a slight decrease in COVID-like illness being treated and a plateau with the number of deaths. 

The county's health director expressed cautious optimism.  The focus is now shifting on how to help businesses fairly.

Small businesses are having big financial struggles in wake of COVID-19. The reality in Tarrant County is not lost on its leaders.

For starters, $30 million in federal stimulus money will soon be available for Tarrant County businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Commissioners hope at least another $30 million will come from the state.

That said, the debate begins with how to fairly distribute the money. 

Several commissioners are against a ‘first come, first served’ application approach. They say it plays against the smallest business owners who may not have top-notch record keeping.

“They are going to be the ones at the end of the application process,” said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes. “Another business guy is going to come along and say I did this yesterday or day before yesterday. Well, two days ago may be too late. The money may be all gone if it’s first come first serve.”

“I’m trying to make sure that we don't just simply cover expenses, but we give our citizens a little bit of income,” said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley. “Because as a result of policies we put in place, many of them were shut down and lost all income.”

One thing the commission agrees on is the demand for assistance will outweigh the tens of millions of dollars that will become available.