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Gov. Hutchinson says 'Arkansas Ready for Business' grant program took applications prematurely

The Arkansas Ready for Business grant program was unveiled on Wednesday, but closed within in the hour after going beyond the limit of the program.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The Arkansas Ready for Business grant program was unveiled by Gov. Hutchinson on Wednesday, April 29, but closed within in the hour after going beyond the limit of the program.  

In a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Hutchinson said that a $15 million state-administered fund to help Arkansas small businesses reopen took applications "prematurely."

According to Arkansas Business, the state Economic Development Commission began taking applications for the "Arkansas Ready for Business" grant program at about 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to Alisha Curtis, AEDC's chief communications and legislative director.

Within the hour, it received 2,392 applications totaling more than $35 million, well beyond the limit of the program, which would be funded by Arkansas' share of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds, according to Arkansas Business.

Following, the AEDC stopped taking applications and closed the webpage.

A message on the AEDC website on Thursday said that "due to overwhelming demand, we received grant applications that would exceed funding limits."

In an effort to help Arkansas businesses as they prepare to transition back towards normal operating capacity, the Ready for Business Grant Program is designed to provide grants from $1,000 to $100,000, depending on the number of employees, to assist with COVID-19-related expenses, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), deep cleaning, signage, hand sanitizer dispensers, marketing and more.

The purpose of the grant program is to help a wide variety of businesses that will be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks and months.

The $15 million in grants will be distributed by the Arkansas Department of Commerce. The funding is capped at $100,000 per grant and is open to all business sectors. 

Gov, Hutchinson said his administration hopes to relaunch the fund next week.

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