'I'm just looking for some support': Small business left out of Alta. COVID-19 funding
EDMONTON -- The Alberta government is expanding its relaunch grant so that more businesses are eligible for support, but one local business owner says it’s not enough.
Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer announced the change on Thursday.
The new guidelines now include businesses that started operating between March 1, 2020 and October 21, 2020 who can show that they had a 30 per cent loss of revenue in the last two months of the year. If they qualify, businesses could be eligible for up to $15,000.
"Nothing says Alberta like a small business owner starting off in the middle of a pandemic so we want to be there to support you," Schweitzer said.
Scott Claypool opened his coffee shop and roastery The Dapper Beaver in August after more than a year of planning and preparation.
Even with the new guidelines, he says his business is still not eligible for the provincial funding.
“For those of us who are really trying to make it month to month here, that support just isn’t there,” Claypool said. “It’s still my responsibility to make a sustainable business, but at the same time, I’m just looking for some support through the COVID relief.”
The provincial guidelines use a comparison model and as a new business, Claypool can't show a loss in revenue. He says he knows of many other local businesses in the same position.
Prior to the change in guidelines, Claypool started a petition to encourage the UCP government to recognize that the grant doesn’t fit the needs of a new businesses.
“I shouldn’t have to feel this frustration of trying to navigate and understand the help that is supposed to be coming from our government,” he said. “It’s really tough having to spend hours, literally hours and hours and hours every time something is released, hoping that something is there for us.”
Claypool hopes that the petition will gain momentum and that supports can be brought forward that includes all small local businesses in Alberta, regardless of when they opened.
The petition had 3,645 signatures as of Friday morning.
"Entrepreneurship still needs to occur in Alberta, it’s what we build our economy on and we need to support these people that are trying to make a living for their family,” he said.
Claypool said the community has been very supportive since he opened his doors and that the support local movement had a big impact, especially during the Christmas season.
"I am so, so grateful that everybody has really rallied behind us," he said. "But at the end of the day, I think it's the government that needs to step up as much as the citizens have."
The province says the expanded relaunch grant program will be available online in the first week of February.