While federal money was available for counties to help businesses hurt by the pandemic, the Nevada Association of Counties knew small counties didn’t have the staff power to administer those funds. So, it stepped up to create a program its members could easily plug into.
Counties provide many resources for their citizens, and since the pandemic began, they have been in overdrive when it comes to offering needed services. When counties in Nevada realized there were federal funds in the CARES Act available to distribute to local businesses affected by the pandemic, they were relieved to be able to help constituents, said Dagny Stapleton, executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO). Then they realized what administering that money would entail.
“It would have taken a ton of time,” Stapleton said. “Developing the application, developing a portal, looking at everything the federal government requires—W9s, tax returns, profit and loss statements, screening individual applications, reaching out to the businesses if the application wasn’t complete. It would take at least a couple of weeks of a staff person’s time, and most counties wouldn’t have had the capacity to do it.”
Instead of having each county go through this process, NACO stepped in to help. The group took its lead from the state’s largest country, Clark, which had developed its own grant program to dole out CARES Act dollars.
“We thought we could do a similar program and allow the smaller counties in the state to participate,” Stapleton said. “We wanted them to have something they could just plug into and not have to do additional work.”
Like Clark County, NACO contracted with the National Development Council to ensure the grant program followed federal requirements for the application and vetted applicant documentation. While member counties will reimburse NACO for their portion of the NDC work cost, they didn’t have to send out their own requests for proposals or spend time on most of the setup details that come with such projects.
“Every county who wanted to do it was happy to be able to have the assistance and the ability to do it through us,” Stapleton said. “We did work with a contact in each county to make sure they got input and could customize anything they needed.”
For example, some counties want to issue grants on a rolling basis until the money is depleted, while others want to continue to allow applications until the program closes and then choose the recipients from the complete pool of applicants.
The grant program, which is hosted on the NACO site, officially opened up this week and will close in October. Stapleton said she’s happy NACO was able to help its members meet their needs. “We’re a small state, and we work solely with our members,” she said. “It was what they needed, and we helped them do it. It’s about getting the money to the people on the ground.”