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TOPEKA – Thousands of businesses across Kansas hope to dip their toe in a pool of $138 million in federal funds for COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

On Wednesday, Aug. 26, the governor’s office announced more than 7,000 businesses and nonprofit organizations applied for Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Economic Development and Connectivity grants in the first week of the application process that began Aug. 19.

Of the 7,000-plus grant applications submitted, more than 5,000 were for Small Business Working Capital (SBWC) grant funds, according to the governor’s office.

The SBWC grants are available for Kansas businesses with fewer than 500 employees, according to the state Department of Commerce. The funds can be used to pay working capital expenses such as payroll, rent, mortgage insurance, utilities, inventory and other expenses, according to a commerce department news release.

Because of the high volume of applications, the Kansas Department of Commerce said it will no longer accept applications for SBWC and PPE procurement grant programs after 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31. The application form and more details can be found at kansascommerce.gov/covidrelief.

The federal funds are being distributed through the state on a first-come, first-serve basis until the money is depleted, according to the Department of Commerce release.

The SBWC grants are part of more than $138 million in grants to serve businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the pandemic and for the expansion of broadband access in the state, according to the governor’s office.

“The initial response to this application period has been extraordinary,” Gov. Laura Kelly said in a news release. “We’re ready to give each application the consideration and attention it deserves – and we’ll make sure these funds are deployed in the most effective and strategic way possible to help small businesses, nonprofit organizations and others affected by COVID-19.”

The SPARK Taskforce and state Department of Commerce said they intend to maintain the Small Business Working Capital, PPE Procurement and Connectivity Emergency Response Grant programs in case additional federal CARES Act funding becomes available.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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