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Back to Business Mississippi grant program goes live Thursday

JACKSON — Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday announced that applications for the Back to Business Mississippi grant program will be live starting at noon Thursday and available on the website, backtobusinessms.org.

“We need to always remember: the pandemic was not just a public health emergency,” Reeves said. “It plunged our country into the greatest job loss since the Great Depression. The economic damage — and the human cost of it — has been incalculable. We need to do everything in our power to take care of our neighbors.”

The Mississippi Development Authority has been working on the program, officials said.

“MDA’s top priority has been working diligently to put in motion the new Back to Business Mississippi grant program,” said John Rounsaville, interim director at MDA. “We are happy to announce that MDA began taking applications today to help businesses that suffered economic losses during COVID-19.”

Qualifying businesses with 50 employees or less could receive up to $25,000, depending on their expenses during the pandemic. Eligible expenses under the grant program include mortgage interest, rent, payroll, utilities, and other pandemic-related expenses. Under the CARES Act, the grant cannot cover lost revenue, a press release states.

Small business owners can find a list of eligibility guidelines on the Back to Business Mississippi website, as well as rules, regulations, and a list of FAQs.

Safe Return order extended

Reeves also announced Wednesday two new executive orders to help reopen the state’s economy — one extending the Safe Return order an additional two weeks, and one getting all government employees back to work.

“I also want to announce a few changes to our Safe Return order,” Reeves said. “As a reminder, these should not be taken as a signal that the risk is gone. COVID-19 is still here, still deadly, still contagious. It is purely a recognition of the costs of continued shutdowns and heavy regulation.”
Reeves consulted with state health experts to develop his strategic response plan and extended the Safe Return order until 8 a.m. June 29 with a few new amendments. Under the executive order, the limitation on restaurants and bars that serve alcohol must close to the public by 10 p.m. is lifted, a press release states.
Gyms and fitness centers are also allowed to increase the number of customers to 50% of maximum capacity, and outdoor and indoor arenas can open under social distancing restrictions such as limiting seating capacity to 25% and following guidelines for business operations under Executive Order No. 1492.

The other executive order sunsets administrative leave for state, local and municipal government employees set under Executive Orders 1458 and 1460 to end on July 1, the press release states. Last month, the Reeves signed Executive Order No. 1484 directing government employers to begin the process of safely returning all employees back to work.

You can view the signed executive orders Executive Order No. 1495Executive Order No. 1496 at governorreeves.ms.gov/covid-19/.