Democratic Sens. Robert Jackson, left, of Marks; Samson Jackson, second from left, of DeKalb; and Joseph Thomas Jr., right, of Yazoo City, confer with Republican President Pro Tem Dean Kirby, of Pearl, as they wait to vote on a coronavirus relief bill for small businesses, Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi legislators vote to unlock $300 million in business grants

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Mississippi legislators voted this week to enable new grants for small businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The total cost of the program is estimated to be around $300 million, and businesses will be eligible to apply to the new grants following the law being signed on Wednesday.

Small businesses that have faced disruption from the pandemic and were forced to close by the government will be able to make their application to the new program which will provide grants ranging from $2000 to $25,000.

In addition to the grants for small businesses, more funding will be made available as part of the $300 million package  of relief to businesses that didn’t receive supporting aid from the previously announced federal Paycheck Protection Program.

The state of Mississippi has taken bold action to ensure that businesses could receive relief by enacting the new grants program – part of a larger funding pool of $1.25 billion.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves had been under pressure from the business community to take additional measures to support them financially. The Governor has previously sparred with fellow Republicans on who would have the powers to spend the allocated federal relief money for the state. However, according to a newly released poll, Mississippians are in favor of his handling of the COVID-19 response and he enjoys an 83% approval rating.

Meanwhile, the national picture is grim and unemployment claims have skyrocketed in April leading to record job losses.

With the latest intervention and the gradual easing of the lockdown, there is a glimmer of hope that the local economy can bounce back and provide struggling businesses with a vital lifeline.

The state of Mississippi has a population of 3 million citizens and more than 100,000 tests for coronavirus have been conducted across the state, with 212 deaths from the disease according to the latest figures.