Knox Businesses May Still Have to Wait Several Weeks for COVID-19 Relief Funding

All 27 businesses that applied for COVID-19 help from the City of Knox will get funding, but they may not see it for several more weeks. Mayor Dennis Estok told the city council Tuesday that the city is all set to go, but there appears to be a holdup with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

“We still do not have any release of funds,” Estok said. “In fact, none of the 13 communities – OCRA has not released any funds, period.”

Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, who oversees OCRA, was asked about the issue during Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing. “What I’m going to have to do is go to OCRA and find out why, specifically, certain communities have not received their dollars,” she said. “It may be something on their end, in terms of information that they need to get us, and perhaps, it is something on our end.”

The City of Knox was awarded $250,000 from the OCRA’s COVID-19 Response Program to give grants to local businesses. Mayor Estok said OCRA still had to determine what information it needs from the grant recipients. After that, a public hearing would have to be advertised and held.

Estok is telling businesses not to expect the money until the end of July. “It’s not on the city’s part,” he said. “It’s coming down from HUD and then to OCRA, and I think right now it’s in OCRA’s hands. So they’ve got to get their – together and get the money out. That’s the purpose of it. They can’t wait a year. Some of these businesses might not even be here.”

Even though Knox was awarded the money back in April, the city has still had to go through many of the procedural steps from the usual grant process. A formal grant application to OCRA was just approved by the city council earlier this month.

North Judson and Pulaski County are planning to apply for grant funding to launch similar programs of their own.