**Updated on 5/30 at 6am with new info on Tech Troubleshooting**
Frequently Asked Questions
General Application Questions
When and where do I apply?
- Applications for the Full Grant and Micro Grant will be accepted online between May 15 and May 31; the application forms will close at 11:59pm on May 31.
- Applications will only be accepted through the online forms linked above; no paper or email applications will be accepted.
- Learn more about the Eligibility Requirements here.
When will I hear back once I apply?
- You will receive a confirmation email upon submission. The application window will close on Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 11:59 pm. We anticipated making awards in mid-June and will be in touch no later than June 19th to update you on the status of your application.
Does the order in which my application is received affect my application standing?
- No. All applications completed and submitted before the deadline will be considered equally. There is no benefit to rushing an application. We encourage applicants to take their time to ensure a complete and well supported request.
What’s the difference between the Full and Micro Grant, and which one should I apply for?
- The Full Grant requests are for between $5,001 and $50,000 and are for tourism-related businesses with more extensive reopening expenses. Given their larger size, there will be fewer Full Grants made by number and we anticipate they will be more competitive. The application is also more detailed, and requires more backup documentation.
- Micro Grant requests are up to $5,000 and are designed for smaller tourism-related businesses (often 5 or fewer employees) with fewer reopening related expenses, but where a grant will still make a meaningful impact. We expect to award more Micro Grants than Full Grants, and the application process is more streamlined.
- A business may only apply once, so please choose the application that is most appropriate for your needs. You can learn more about why to choose one grant application over the other in our document Micro Grant Overview.
What documents are required for a Full Grant application?
- Application Budget Template: Excel Spreadsheet | Google Sheet
- Your most recent Federal tax return
- 2019 Year-End (Dec 31) Profit & Loss Statement and Balance Sheet Statement
- 2020 Year-to-Date Profit & Loss Statement and Balance Sheet Statement
- Documentation to substantiate your percentage (%) decline in revenue due to COVID-19
- Documentation to substantiate the percentage (%) of your business revenue that comes from tourists.
- Copy of a government-issued (state or Federal) photo ID
What documents Are required for a Micro Grant application?
- Your business’s most recent Federal tax return. If you have not yet filed a tax return for your business, you must instead provide a 2019 Year-End Profit & Loss Statement.
- Copy of a government-issued (state or Federal) photo ID
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New Additions to General Questions – Added 05/22/2020
How does this grant program interact with other local, state, and federal funding programs and resources? Will my applications to other disaster loan funding jeopardize my ability to receive funding through this program?
- Receiving disaster loan funds such as the SBA Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPP), or any other COVID-19 specific funds does not negatively impact your eligibility for the Tourism Fund, nor will applying for or receiving funds from this program affect your eligibility for these other funds, or impact your forgiveness from PPP. Having other sources of funding for your re-opening costs helps us see the whole picture of how your reopening plan will work.
If I receive a grant, what will my responsibilities be as a grant recipient?
- Applicants must:
- Agree to Report at 6 Months and 1 Year After Grant: All grantees must provide reports on items including the financial condition of the business, number of jobs added or retained, and use of funds received, 6 months and 1 year following the receipt of funds.
- Agree That Funds Will Only Be Used for Re-Opening the Business: Grant recipients may only use this grant for employee compensation, inventory, mortgage, rent, utilities, and other operating costs and expenses incurred in reopening or otherwise safely resuming normal operations of a business and hiring employees in Buncombe County.
- Agree to Award Announcement: All grantee business names, grant amounts, and number of jobs supported will be publicly announced.
- If a grantee fails to meet these requirements, they are required to return any grant funds received.
If we apply for a full grant and don’t receive it, will we automatically be considered for a micro-grant?
- An entity may only apply to either the micro or the full application, not both. Mountain BizWorks reserves the right to make awards at less than the requested amount. As such, some applications for more than $5001 may end up being awarded at a level below $5000.
What are the provisions for maintaining strict confidentiality of information submitted? Is there a way to know who will have access to the financial info and tax returns provided?
- The only people who will have access to financial information and tax returns will be Mountain BizWorks staff and a few of our business coaches, all of whom have signed strict Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest agreements. These same agreements will be in place for any of our reviewers, even of the non-financial sections of the application.
I own multiple companies. Am I able to apply for more than one of them?
- Yes, as long as the companies are distinct legal entities (have separate Tax IDs), they may apply separately.
- This also applies to multiple entities that may be owned by the same parent corporation.
We want to protect the privacy of our clients but want to be sure we give you the info you are seeking. Are you requesting names and addresses of our clients?
- No. We do not need client names or detailed addresses; ZIP codes are an acceptable level of detail for address information, and you can also provide client data in aggregate form.
What if my fiscal year isn’t calendar-year based?
- If your organization does not use the calendar Fiscal Year, please submit financial documents for your most recent full fiscal year (all grant types), plus current FY-to-date info (for full grants only).
What are the employee number requirements?
- The business or nonprofit must have had at least 2 and not more than 200 Full-Time Equivalent employees as of the NC State of Emergency declaration on March 10, 2020.
- In calculating full-time equivalent (FTE), each full-time position shall count as 1 FTE, and each part-time position shall count as 1/2 FTE. For example, a business with 5 full-time positions and 4 part-time positions would be 7 FTE. If your calculation results in a decimal (i.e., 3.5) please round up to the next whole number.
- Owners who are actively working in the business do count as employees for the purposes of determining FTEs; passive owners and independent contractors do not.
- Seasonal Businesses: If a business is seasonal, they can use their FTE count from their last “in-season” period as a substitute for the March 10 date.
What counts as a “tourist”?
- A tourist for the purposes of this program is someone from 50+ miles away.
Our company has multiple locations, including some in the county and others outside of it. Do you want overall company information or just information about the Buncombe County locations?
- In filling out the application, please provide employee counts and tourism impact data only for locations in Buncombe County. It is important to note that your eligibility to apply for this grant depends on your Buncombe County locations meeting all eligibility requirements.
- Please note that the grant may only be used for Buncombe County-based activities and expenditures and that your requested budget should clearly reflect this requirement
- Requested financial documents should be provided for the company as a whole
If we are planning to try to reopen soon, or have already reopened, do we still qualify?
- Businesses that have already re-opened, or which never closed, are still eligible for grant funding, so long as they meet all of the eligibility criteria, and have clear costs for reopening or safely resuming normal operations in Buncombe County.
My business type was not specifically listed in the eligibility requirements. Would I still be considered for the grant?
- If your business provides direct & in-person services to tourists and meets all of the other eligibility criteria you are eligible to be considered for grant funding.
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New Additions to Eligibility; added 05/22/2020
Is Mountain BizWorks checking applicant’s credit scores?
- No. Credit scores will not be pulled or used as part of the evaluation process.
Are seasonal businesses eligible?
- Seasonal businesses are eligible. If a business is seasonal, they can use their Full Time Employee count from their last “in-season” period as a substitute for the March 10 date.
How do I document that 20+% of my revenues come from tourists?
- Given the diversity of business types that will be applying, we are flexible as to what type of documentation you provide. Some businesses will have customer data (e.g., ZIP code data from a point of sale system) that can clearly show their tourism impact. Other businesses may have to rely more on best faith assumptions. Please just do your best to show how you arrived at the provided estimate; this could include a written statement describing your calculation.
- Nonprofits may base their calculation solely on the percentage of their earned income (e.g., ticket sales) that is derived from tourists, and disregard income from grants, giving, or similar items.
- Please provide and base your calculations off of 2019 numbers if possible.
What is an active owner?
- “Active Owner” means a business owner who is hands-on and involved in the day-to-day activities and day-to-day decision-making of the business. Active owners do count as employees for the purposes of determining FTEs under this program.
- Passive owners (i.e. any shareholder in a business that is not involved in the day-to-day decision-making of the company’s operations) and independent contractors do not count as employees.
Are overnight summer camps eligible?
- Summer camps do *not* count as lodging, since per N.C. Gen. Stat. 105-164.4F(e)(3), generally sales taxes on accommodations are exempted for an accommodation arranged or provided by a school, camp or similar entity where a tuition or fee is charged to the person for enrollment in the school, camp or similar entity.
New Additions to Reopening; added 05/22/2020
What happens to businesses who make investments to open in good faith, if there is a fall resurgence of the virus and they aren’t allowed to open (or are forced to close) before year end?
- In the Reopening Plan section of the application (section 7), we ask that businesses provide plans based on the information currently available. If outside forces such as another round of social distancing force businesses to close, or prevent them from reopening as planned, we ask that the businesses report this information in their 6 month progress reports on Dec. 31st.
- As long as grant funds are spent towards reopening and related operating costs, they will not need to be repaid even if the business is unable to reopen (or forced to close again) from future COVID-19 impacts.
- If a business is unable to reopen or closes permanently, any unspent grant funds will be required to be returned.
Our projected reopening costs will be in excess of the maximum grant. Do we show the full costs or just the segment for which we are requesting funding?
- Please show the full expected costs of re-opening. In cases where funds from this grant program are part of a larger reopening budget, it is important for our team to understand how the grant funding fits into the larger picture, and how the other costs of reopening will be financed.
For “reopening costs”, how long of a period do you consider eligible for reopening expenses?
- This really depends on the nature of your business, and its reopening plans. The grants are intended to help businesses reopen safely and successfully, and get back to being fully operational, with the key elements in place for ongoing financial viability. Your budget should reflect the costs to do this; there are no specific rules for what constitutes a reopening time period.
What counts as an eligible expense?
- The grant funds are to be used only for employee compensation, inventory, mortgage, rent, utilities, and other operating costs and expenses incurred in reopening or otherwise safely resuming normal operations of a business and hiring employees in Buncombe County.
- That means that funds should be used for reopening and getting your business back up and ready for whatever your “new normal” is based on your reopening plan, i.e., for reopening safely and successfully. This is not a grant for 12 months of operating costs, nor is it a grant to replace lost revenue.
- It’s also important to note that funds may ONLY be used for activities and expenditures incurred in Buncombe County. If your business also operates in locations outside of Buncombe County, only costs related to your Buncombe-based operations may be paid for through this grant program.
Contractors don’t count towards my number of Full Time Equivalent employees. Do they still count as an eligible expense to use grant funds towards?
- Yes, contractor payments count as an eligible expense.
Can I use grant funds to pay for previously incurred expenses such as PPE that was already purchased to reopen?
- Eligible reopening costs must have been incurred after the March 10 State of Emergency declaration.
How much should I apply for?
- Your application amount should be supported by realistic estimated costs to reopen and get your business back to fully operational.
Tech Troubleshooting – updated 05/30
General application advice to avoid tech issues:
- Fill out a Word version of your application (can easily be opened via Google Docs or similar if you don’t own Word)
- Make sure to use the back/next buttons in the form rather than in your browser
- Save each page of your application as you move through it
- Use common file formats for uploaded documents, and make sure you’ve saved the most recent version of your documents before uploading them
Will I receive a confirmation email once I’ve submitted my application?
- Yes, you should receive a confirmation email once you’ve submitted your application, and be directed to a landing page that confirms your submission. The email should also include a copy of your answers.
- If you do not receive a confirmation email after a minute or two, (and you’ve checked your Spam folder and similar areas where emails can get lost) you can email email@example.com and our team should be able to confirm your application and send you a copy. Please note that during the weekend, our team members will be checking email periodically, but responses will likely take longer.
Can I go back and change my answers after I submit?
- Our team can make small changes to your application (i.e. changing the answer on a yes/no question, updating a document.) If you need one of these small changes made, please use the question form (on the main Fund page, or at the bottom of this FAQ page) to submit that request.
- However, for any substantive changes (like changes to narrative questions or changes to key fields like the amount requested) you will have to submit a new copy of the application form. You should be able to use the PDF copy of the form you received upon submitting your application to easily copy/paste the answers you won’t be changing into the new form.
- Mountain BizWorks will always use the most recent version of your application that was submitted.
What do I do if my attachments won’t upload?
- Upload problems are very rare, but when they occur, we know they’re really frustrating. Unfortunately, our form software provider hasn’t been able to replicate any of the issues that applicants have noted, and therefore can’t troubleshoot them effectively. Here are some recommendations from our staff.
- First of all, it is normal that you won’t be able to click on the documents you’ve uploaded and view them; the form software doesn’t generally allow you to do so. What you should see is a file name and file size, and an “X” that you can click to delete the document from your application. This should allow you to confirm that you uploaded the right file. (Please note that the file sizes displayed may vary a bit between what your computer says and the form website says.)
- If you are unable to upload attachments, or unable to delete previously uploaded attachments, you may have to create a new version of the form and copy/paste your answers into that new version. Before you do so, please make sure to save your application answers in a Word or other text document so that you can copy/paste them later.
- You can also click “Save and Continue Later” to get a saved copy emailed to you (or a link that you can use), and open that saved copy in a new window, or even a different browser. Sometimes just closing the form and opening a saved copy can fix the problem.
Who Can I Contact With Questions?
For technical problems with the online form
For questions not related to technical problems with the online form: Due to the high volume of inquiries, we strongly recommend reading and reviewing all available informational guidelines about the Tourism Fund, at tourismfund.org under “Program Guidelines”:
- Eligibility Criteria
- How Applications Will Be Evaluated
- Micro Grant Overview
- Recorded Webinar: Eligibility Criteria & How Your Application Will be Evaluated
- Recorded Webinar: Recorded Webinar: Application Walk-Through
If you are still unable to find the answer to your questions, feel free to submit a question using the form below and we will follow up shortly.
- You can also call 828-253-2834 ext. 3 – we are doing our best to answer all calls as they come in, but if you have to leave a voicemail we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Is there anyone who can help me develop my application?
- Mountain BizWorks has partnered with 4 Small Business Development community partners to support applicants in developing an application. You can book an appointment directly with a small business counselor from one of these partners using the following link: https://calendly.com/tourism-fund-coaches/app-counseling