The Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program (the “Program”) was created by the 2020 COVID-19 Mississippi Business Assistance Act (the “Act”). The Program, which is available until November 1, 2020, allows an eligible business to receive up to $25,000 (the “Back to Business Grant”) to mitigate certain losses it incurred due to COVID-19. This article sets forth: (1) what is considered an eligible business, (2) general information about the Back to Business Grant, and (3) how to apply for the Back to Business Grant.
Only eligible businesses can obtain a Back to Business Grant. An eligible business is a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or sole proprietorship that satisfies all of the following criteria:
- Is a domestic business, meaning:
- Regarding a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, or limited partnership, it was legally formed in Mississippi and filed its required formation filing (e.g., articles of incorporation) as of March 1, 2020
- Regarding a general partnership, a partner owning 50.1% or more of such general partnership resides in Mississippi and the general partnership’s principal place of business and general operations are in Mississippi, as of March 1, 2020
- Regarding a sole proprietorship, the owner resides in Mississippi and the sole proprietorship’s principal place of business and general operations are in Mississippi, as of March 1, 2020
- Is in good standing with Mississippi’s Secretary of State
- Has (1) suffered a disruption in business operations caused by the closure of its business related to COVID-19 if that closure occurred on or after March 1, 2020; or (2) incurred Eligible Expenses (as defined below)
- The controlling interest of the business is owned by one or more Mississippi residents
- Has filed Mississippi taxes for the tax year 2018 or 2019, unless exempted by law; and if the business was formed after December 31, 2019, it intends to file Mississippi taxes for tax year 2020, unless exempt by law
- Had no more than 50 full-time equivalent employees as of March 1, 2020
- Has customers or employees coming to its physical premises, conducts business on customer premises, or has an owner who is an active participant in the day-to-day operations of the business
- Is not (1) a subsidiary of a business with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees, (2) part of a larger business enterprise with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees, and (3) owned by a business with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees
- Does not exist for the purpose of advancing partisan political activities, does not directly lobby federal or state officials, and has not employed or otherwise worked with a lobbyist in any way at any time during 2020
- Does not derive income from passive investments without active participation in business operations
- Is not under a bankruptcy order and does not have a pending bankruptcy filing at the time its application is submitted
Back to Business Grant
The maximum amount a business can receive under the Back to Business Grant is $25,000. An eligible business can choose one of three methods to determine the Back to Business Grant amount:
- Base Payment Method. As long as funds for the Program are available, an eligible business is entitled to receive $1,500.
- BP plus Full-Time Equivalent Employees Method. An eligible business can apply for additional funds (as long as funds for the Program are available) resulting in a maximum award of up to $25,000, by claiming an additional $500 for each full-time equivalent employee employed by the business as of March 1, 2020.
- BP plus Eligible Expenses Method. An eligible business can apply for additional funds (as long as funds for the Program are available) resulting in a maximum award of up to $25,000, by itemizing Eligible Expenses on the Back to Business Grant application.
“Eligible Expenses” means a cost incurred by an eligible business due to (a) public health measures or (b) a disruption of regular business operations resulting from closure related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 1, 2020.
Eligible expenses due to public health measures include (1) costs to create social distancing measures; (2) costs to clean or disinfect areas due to COVID-19; (3) purchasing personal protective equipment for employees or customers; (4) contactless equipment; (5) equipment, items or other expenses to screen employees or customers to ensure they are not positive for COVID-19; (6) equipment or items designed to track employees or customers who have tested positive for COVID-19; (7) necessary re-opening expenses; and (8) expenses to facilitate teleworking.
Eligible expenses due to a disruption of regular business operations (resulting from closure related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 1, 2020) are only allowed for a two-month period and include mortgage interest, rent, payroll, and utilities.
The following are not Eligible Expenses: (1) lost profits; (2) damages that have been or will be covered by insurance; (3) costs that have been or will be reimbursed by any other federal or state program; (4) reimbursement for donated items or services; (5) workforce bonuses other than hazard pay or overtime; (6) severance pay; (7) legal settlements; and (8) other costs deemed ineligible expenses under the guidelines, guidance, rules, regulations and/or other criteria, as may be amended from time to time, by the United States Department of the Treasury regarding the use of monies from the “Coronavirus Relief Fund.”
Reductions in Award Amount
The award amount will be reduced by the receipt of (or confirmation that the business will receive) proceeds of any of the following: (1) SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loan; (2) SBA EIDL Emergency Advance; (3) MDOR Covid-19 Relief Payment Program; and (4) Business interruption insurance.
How to Apply for Back to Business Grant
To apply for the Back to Business Grant, visit https://www.backtobusinessms.org/, click the link that says “Apply for the Back to Business Mississippi Grant here” and follow instructions for registering an account. The following is the information needed to complete the application for the Back to Business Grant:
- Business name as registered with Mississippi Secretary of State (if registered)
- DBA or tradename (if applicable)
- Type of business entity
- Date of formation/creation
- Business address
- Taxpayer Identification Number (EIN, SSN)
- Mississippi Secretary of State Business ID number (if applicable)
- Business phone number
- Primary contact
- Email address
- A tax return filed for 2018 and/or 2019. If the eligible business was formed after December 31, 2019, a return will not be required. Entities that do not file tax returns in the name of the eligible business (e.g., single member LLCs, sole proprietorships and certain partnerships) will submit the Schedule C to the appropriate individual tax return.
- Number of full-time equivalent employees as of March 1, 2020
- Confirmation and description of the impact of COVID-19 on the applicant
- The following information for every individual who is a controlling owner: name, title, percentage of applicant owned, taxpayer identification number, address, an identification of the owners who are Mississippi residents, and an indication of any owner who is a participant in the applicant’s active day-to-day operations
- Confirmation of and information regarding the minority business enterprises status of applicant (if applicable)
- Response as to whether (and if so, how much) the applicant has applied for and/or received funds from any of the following: SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loan; SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan; SBA EIDL Emergency Advance; other federal programs; and insurance proceeds
- Determination of whether the applicant is requesting money based on the BP plus Full-Time Equivalent Employees Method or BP plus Eligible Expenses Method