July 25th, 2024

More businesses getting access to government relaunch grants

By Tim Kalinowski on February 3, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The Government of Alberta will allow more small businesses to access its Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Relaunch Grants as of Thursday. The grants will allow businesses to access up to $20,000 in support which were previously ineligible when the grants were first opened for applications back in November. Unregistered sole proprietors of businesses can now apply, and, significantly, new businesses which opened in 2020 are now also eligible for support.
“So far we have had over 45,000 businesses receive the relaunch grant,” stated Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation in a telephone interview with The Herald last week, “and over $310 million has been deployed. We are anticipating still hundreds of millions of dollars will be needed for small businesses, and we intend to make sure they have the resources they need.”
Prior to these changes, businesses without a 2019 tax return because they started in 2020 could not apply for the grants. Schweitzer said having heard feedback from the business community over this issue his government has moved to ensure the entrepreneurial spirit of those businesses were honoured by giving them access to the same grants as more established businesses.
“When we first launched (the SME),” he explained, “we were hopeful it would be one-shot, and we wouldn’t necessarily have to get into the second (COVID-19) wave scenario as well. But obviously, we are into a second wave. When we initially designed the program it was based on the year before, but many businesses started up in the interim. This is truly the Alberta spirit: the fact a business would start up in the middle of a pandemic. We wanted to make sure those supports were there for those new businesses.”
Schweitzer acknowledged these grants only represented perhaps a few months of support for eligible businesses and were intended to help triage a specific problem over the short term, but he also felt strongly the broader sector by sector stimulus package, and a new focus on diversification aimed at emerging sectors like the film and television and tourism industries, introduced by his government last year would also help boost small businesses as the economy begins to recover in the year ahead.
“We have to make sure our plan goes all the way up from the small businesses to the big guys,” he stated. “That is really where our sector strategy is going to be successful over the long term. I know it is a hard time right now, and people are frustrated. And there is a lot of pent-up frustration all over the world. But I do believe in the future of Alberta.
“If you take a look at the infrastructure we have, the foundation we have in our province, even when you look at the challenges we have had over the last five years plus– you know what? We still have an amazing foundation, and people who are entrepreneurial.”

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