EDITOR, Daily News:

Beginning on June 1, small businesses were able to apply for AK CARES Act relief funding, which is federal funding intended to help support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development and AIDEA have had difficulties getting the money to applicants; of the $290 million in relief funds allocated by the Legislature in May, only a small percentage of those funds have been distributed to local businesses.

In response, multiple House committees held hearings to take public comment about the AK CARES Act program. The response from Alaskans was heard loud and clear: changes needed to be made.

On Aug. 6, important changes were made to expand eligibility: nonprofit 503(C)(6) organizations and commercial fishermen are now eligible. The changes also allowed small businesses that had already received up to $5,000 in PPP/EIDL funds eligible to apply. Now, the State has expanded the eligibility of that last point even more.

On Aug. 27, the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee met to approve additional changes requested by the governor. Now, businesses that received any amount of Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds are eligible to apply for AK CARES grants. Those businesses must re-apply through the online portal at www.akcaresonline.org.

COVID-19 has created unprecedented times and addressing those issues has been a moving target. I understand the frustration that many businesses have had difficulty applying or have not yet received their funds. Please contact my office if you would like any assistance in applying or just want to know more about the program. You can reach me by email at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov, or call my office.

REP DANā€ˆORTIZ

House District 36

Ketchikan