Kenai Peninsula Borough Administration building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Borough Administration building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Trends: Grants on tap for local businesses

Across the peninsula, CARES dollars funded grant programs offering financial relief to residents, workers and businesses.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough and incorporated cities all devoted a large portion of their CARES Act dollars to creating grant programs to offer financial relief to their residents, workers and businesses.

Business grants

The City of Kenai issued three rounds of grants for local businesses, one of which is accepting applications through March 22. Between the first two programs, the city estimates it awarded $3.7 million in grants. The Kenai City Council approved $200,000 more dollars for the third round of grants.

The City of Soldotna issued two rounds of grants for local businesses and plans to launch a third with its remaining funds. In all, the city estimates 169 businesses have already received grants.

The borough spent about $6.6 million on grants to small businesses, nonprofits, commercial fishers and senior centers. The unincorporated community of Kalifornsky was this program’s largest recipients, with more than $1.2 million awarded to grantees in the region.

Housing relief

Soldotna, Kenai and the Kenai Peninsula Borough all offered rent and mortgage relief programs for residents. The programs, which were facilitated by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, provided up to $1,200 in rent or mortgage assistance for the months of September through December 2020.

Soldotna, which allocated $400,000 for its program, estimates that 117 Soldotna households received assistance averaging $872 per month. Kenai allocated up to $400,000 for its relief program, which saw more than 400 households apply. The borough approved up to $2 million for its rent and mortgage relief program, which specifically applied to people living outside of the borough’s incorporated communities.

Other grants

Some grant programs were unique to the place where they were offered.

Soldotna, for example, offered the “Economic Relief for Residents” program, which provided more than $88,000 in direct stipends to 59 Soldotna households to use for eligible expenses.

Kenai and the borough offered grants for commercial fishers. Kenai’s program offered city residents who held Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission permits and met other requirements up to $2,000 across two programs.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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