By Gretchen Wehmhoff

Small Alaska businesses who applied for Cares Act funding through the state may have to wait a bit longer to see their funds, depending on when they filed for assistance.

According to Credit Union 1 (CU1), the applications are being processed in the order they were received. As of deadline, they are working on applications received June 4. 

“The largest volume of applications came during the first three days,” said CU1 Director of Corporate Communications, Jessica Gallagher.

As of July 27, 2,426 applications have been received since the application portal was opened June 1.  

Gallagher says about half of the applications CU1 has initially reviewed have been incomplete. This requires the staff to reach out to the applicant for additional information. Incomplete applications don’t lose their place in line, but they are set aside until the business can provide the missing documentation. 

The State of Alaska’s Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED) encourages applicants to review and submit prompt responses to follow up questions and requests for information, which are necessary in order to finalize the grants. Applicants should also check their voicemails and email inboxes daily, including junk folders for potential follow up questions.

The credit union assigned additional staff to the project and have been able to work with their own employees to fill the needs. 

So far 443 applicants have received disbursements.  Another 74 have been declined.

The funds are being distributed through the DCCED and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority who contracted Credit Union 1, an Alaska credit union, to process the applications and disperse funds.  The legislature set aside $290 million of the Cares Act funding received by Alaska for this program.

The original deadline for the application process was June 17, however, the state reopened the process to allow more flexibility for businesses who still needed to apply and for those who had originally been ineligible due to participating in the federal Cares Act Payroll Protection Program (PPP), yet had not received a significant grant from the PPP.  

According to the State of Alaska website, businesses who apply must have been licensed and established when the public health disaster emergency declaration was issued by the governor on March 11, 2020; the business has, on average, 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and the business must not have received more than $5,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) PPP or the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

Starting Aug. 6, the AK CARES grant program will be expanded to include Alaska’s commercial fishermen, 501(c)6 nonprofit organizations, and small businesses that received $5,000 or less in PPP or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds.

“Setting up a completely new grant program to assist businesses through this unprecedented pandemic and its economic impacts, with constantly evolving federal guidance, has been challenging to say the least,” said DCCED Commissioner, Julie Anderson.

“However, we continue to adapt the program to assist as many businesses as we can, as quickly as we can. I expect to see significant improvements in processing times and the number of businesses we can reach as a result of the program changes that will go into effect next week,” she said.

The deadline for applications has been extended to Nov. 15 for eligible small businesses. Applications are accepted HERE.