COUNTY NEWS RELEASE
Los Alamos County is pleased to announce that more than 50 local small business owners have submitted applications for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds through Los Alamos County’s online Small Business Recovery Assistance Program, ARPA.losalamosnm.us. (See charts showing ARPA Applications Total Amount Requested by Category and by Industry below)
On September 1, the County’s Community Development Department launched an application process with the goal of providing financial assistance to those local small businesses that have struggled due to the negative economic impacts caused by COVID-19 restrictions. Applicants able to demonstrate eligibility will have the opportunity to receive a portion of the $2 million dollar allocation to assist in their recovery. Applications will be accepted until November 1, 2024, or until the $2 million ARPA funds are fully obligated, whichever comes first. To date, no applications have made it through the process to approval or disbursement.
This past week, county staff interviewed all individuals involved in the application process to identify challenges, then updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the webpage, ARPA.losalamosnm.us.
“This is a complex process for everyone involved,” says County Economic Development Administrator Dan Ungerleider. “And we recognize it can be an emotional one for business owners who are being asked to justify and quantify the struggles they’ve had keeping the doors open during the pandemic.”
Ungerleider says the County has established a system and protocols to help small businesses qualify for and receive ARPA funding through a process that is transparent, flexible, and auditable. He encourages prospective applicants to use all available resources:
1. Application Portal/Website: ARPA.losalamosnm.us is the dedicated webpage or portal on the County’s website that features the funding application and all pertinent information regarding eligibility and the process.
2. Application Processor: Victoria Pacheco, Economic Development Division Management Analyst, is the dedicated point of contact for processing funding applications, with support from Economic Development Administrator Dan Ungerleider and Community Development Department Director Paul Andrus.
3. Consultant Team: Directors for the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Development Center are available to assist business owners in the application process.
Victoria Pacheco who has been assisting applicants every day since the program launched on September 1 says, “Reach out early and often—the moment you find something about the application difficult or confusing, please don’t hesitate to contact me for assistance in order to keep your application moving forward.”
Once the application is deemed complete, it will be audited by County Chief Financial Officer and Acting Administrative Services Department Director Helen Perraglio, then approved by the County Manager, Steve Lynne. A grant agreement will be issued for signature that will define the terms of funding disbursement depending upon the type of recovery grant program selected (Financial Hardship, Technical Assistance, and/or Deferred Investment). The agreement also serves as the mechanism by which the County can pay out funds.
To see the updated FAQs and other information on ARPA and the County’s Small Business Recovery Assistance Program, visit ARPA.losalamosnm.us or send an email to Victoria.Pacheco@lacnm.us.
The following is the list of FAQs as published on the County website:
- What is the start-date date for eligible expenses? As established by ARPA, only expenses made after March 3, 2021 are eligible for reimbursement. Expenditures prior to March 3, 2021 were eligible for CARES Act funding consideration, a program that has since closed.
- Are Small Business Recovery Assistance Program grants considered taxable income? Unfortunately, the County cannot provide tax or legal advice. Please get in touch with your accountant or attorney for this service. The County will issue 1099 type G reports for grant recipients on a calendar year basis per IRS reporting deadlines. A link to review IRS guidelines is provided here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/frequently-asked-questions-for-states-and-local-governments-on-taxability-and-reporting-of-payments-from-coronavirus-state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds.
- How often can a business apply? There is no limit to the number of times a business can apply, however, to streamline the application and appropriations process, applicants are encouraged to consider all applicable reimbursements in one application. Funding will be capped at the program caps per recipient. Grants will be available until the funding program has been depleted or December 1, 2024, whichever occurs first.
- Can a business submit a quote for reimbursement, rather than a payment receipt or invoice? These are reimbursement programs; proof of expensed funds will be required in order to receive reimbursement. Proof of payment along with the invoice/receipt will need to be submitted. If applying for deferred investment categories, please follow all the steps to provide documentation of the planned expense, and then you will be required to submit proof of expense for reimbursement by the established deadline outlined in your grant award, if your application is approved.
- Can a business apply for multiple categories? Yes – the grant categories were designed to be “stacked.” With that in mind, reimbursements can only be applied to an expense once.
- Will purchases by credit card and interest accrued be eligible for reimbursement? 1) Payments by a credit card: If the business can prove the credit card bill was paid and provide the underlying detail/itemized receipt, and if that itemized receipt supports an eligible expenditure, that could be okay. 2) Interest: Payments of interest or principal on outstanding debt instruments; fees or issuances costs associated with new debt are not eligible.
- What if I am not registered with the Secretary of State? If you have not registered your business with the NM Secretary of State, please follow this link do so (All Corporation, LLC, and Partnership business types need to be registered in order to provide grant awards – this is not applicable if you are a sole-proprietor): https://www.sos.state.nm.us/business-services/start-a-business/
- What if I don’t know my industry type? If you do not know your industry type, it is important that you contact NM Taxation and Revenue Dept. to review what NAICS industry category you file your NM Gross Receipts Taxes under. This does impact eligibility determination, so please do your best to indicate what industry type your company falls under. If “Other” please describe the nature of your business and know that follow up information may be necessary to ascertain your negative economic impact of the pandemic.
- Do I have to have a Los Alamos County business license to apply for an ARPA grant? Yes. All applicants must have an active business license with Los Alamos County. Be sure to check the status of your business license to ensure that it is accurate and up to date
- What if I am not registered with the Secretary of State? If you have not registered your business with the NM Secretary of State, please follow this link do so (All Corporation, LLC, and Partnership business types must be registered in order to provide grant awards – this is not applicable if you are a sole-proprietor): https://www.sos.state.nm.us/business-services/start-a-business/.
- What if I don’t know my industry type? If you do not know your industry type, it is important that you contact NM Taxation and Revenue Dept. to review what NAICS industry category you file your NM Gross Receipts Taxes under. This does impact eligibility determination, so please do your best to indicate what industry type your company falls under. If “Other” please describe the nature of your business and know that follow-up information may be necessary to ascertain the negative economic impact of the pandemic.
- What types of expenses are eligible for ARPA reimbursement? The three categories eligible for reimbursement under the ARPA program are: Financial Hardship, Technical, and Deferred Investment.
- For All Applications: Check ARPA Guidelines to ensure your submittal meets eligibility requirements.
- Financial Hardship: For quantified revenues lost or unanticipated costs incurred since March 3, 2021, due to COVID closures and restrictions. EXAMPLES: decreased revenues; staff layoffs; unanticipated projects and/or permit costs associated with meeting COVID-Safe Protocols required by the County, State Department of Health, CDC; etc.
- Technical Assistance: Professional services, e.g.—architectural, design, engineering, accounting, marketing—needed in the future to assist your business in adapting to changed expectations of the marketplace, post-pandemic. EXAMPLES: design/production services for new signage; accounting services to add take-out/delivery services; architectural, planning and/or engineering services to support renovation or construction projects (see Deferred Investment below); etc.
- Deferred Investment: A pending project that was planned prior to March 3, 2021, that has been deferred due to COVID impacts/restrictions OR a new, proposed project designed to increase visibility, adapt to the post-pandemic way of doing business, or to otherwise recover lost revenues sustained since March 3, 2021. EXAMPLES: development and installation of a new system to accommodate new takeout or delivery service now expected by customers since COVID; fabrication/installation of new signage; construction or renovation projects to update
NOTE: Technical Assistance and Deferred Investment grants require a contract that details scope, deliverables, costs, and deadline for when all work must be completed. Reimbursements are distributed upon completion of work, on time, and on budget.
- What documents are required to prove eligibility per ARPA requirements?
- For All Applications, write a complete “Explanation of Expenses” – a detailed accounting of how COVID impacted your business between March 3, 2021, to present. Provide context for the records and receipts you submit (see examples below).
- For Financial Hardship grants, provide records and/or receipts that demonstrate financial hardship compared to pre-COVID years and projections, e.g., receipts for rent or utilities paid, payroll records, income tax statements and budget reports.
- For Technical Assistance & Deferred Investment grants, provide a project need statement, a detailed description, a cost estimated and a defined timeframe within which the project will be completed.
- Is there a word limit on the “Explanation of Expenses” section? The default world limit for this section is 2,000 characters because the application is supported by the Community Development Department’s Citizen Self Service Portal—the same system used for processing permits and licenses. HOWEVER, since this section of the application is one of the most important, you may attach a typed document (MS Word or PDF) of any length to tell your story (there is no limit on attachments). Write “’Explanation of Expenses attached as a separate document.” on the application.
- Can a business submit a quote for reimbursement, rather than a payment receipt or invoice? These are reimbursement programs; proof of expensed funds will be required in order to receive reimbursement. Proof of payment along with the invoice/receipt will need to be submitted. If applying for deferred investment categories, please follow all the steps to provide documentation of the planned expense, and then you will be required to submit proof of expense for reimbursement by the established deadline outlined in your grant award if your application is approved.
- How does the process work? Each application is handled in the order received. The application must be deemed complete before it is reviewed for eligibility. Victoria Pacheco, Management Analyst with the County’s Economic Development Division Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org will be your point of contact throughout the process.
- Step 1: Review for Completeness. Grant application is reviewed for completeness. If any required sections or attachments are missing or incomplete, Victoria will reach out to the applicant, by phone or email, to explain what needs to be provided. The ARPA website dashboard will show that the application is “Denied” until all information and documents are uploaded. To keep your application moving in the system, it is recommended to email Victoria (email above) to let her know when the application is resubmitted with the requested information to trigger a new completeness review.
- Step 2: Preliminary Review for Eligibility. Once the application is deemed complete, Victoria reviews it to ensure it meets the ARPA eligibility requirements, engaging with the applicant as needed, then submitting the application with an assessment to the Los Alamos Small Business Assistance Program Team for approval.
- Step 3: Final Approval. County Finance Division will audit the application to ensure it complies with all ARPA requirements and may engage the applicant to clarify or obtain information, then sends the application to the County Manager for final review and approval.
- Step 4: Notification of Application Approval. Victoria will contact grantee, by phone or email, to confirm approval/denial of application(s) and will update the portal accordingly.
- Step 5: Grant Agreement and P.O. Notification. Following notification, Victoria will send a grant agreement defining the terms, funding, and timeline for funding disbursement/reimbursement, depending upon the type of grant. Grantee may be engaged throughout process as needed. Once grant agreement is signed by grantee and County Manager, Victoria will set up a purchase order in the system for the total amount granted, then notify the grantee (1) when to expect direct reimbursement for Financial Hardship funds or (2) to begin work on technical assistance and/or deferred investment projects, submitting receipts for payment on completion of project phases as outlined in the grant agreement.
NOTE: The more complete/eligible the application, the faster it will proceed through the process. To date, all applications received were initially denied due to incompleteness. To view your application, please visit https://losalamoscountynm-energovpub.tylerhost.net/Apps/SelfService#/dashboard. Work with Lauren McDaniel and Ryn Herrmann with LACDC and Sandy Jones with the Small Business Development Center, UNM-Los Alamos to ensure your application is complete and meets ARPA eligibility requirements before submitting it.
- What happens if I don’t spend all my grant money? If grantee does not spend the full amount in the timeframe specified in the grant agreement, the balance of funds will be returned to the County’s master ARPA fund account for redistribution to a new applicant.