After hitting pause on the program in September, the Starr County Commissioners Court approved the relaunch of a grant program to assist small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Now through Nov. 20, the Starr County Industrial Foundation is accepting applications for grants that will be awarded to small businesses negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the process, applicants are asked to submit bank statements for January through May 2020 and a W-9 form.

Eligible businesses that are located within unincorporated areas of the county can receive grants of $3,000 while businesses located within city limits can only qualify for a grant of $1,000.

“The reason for that is that when we got the COVID CARES money, the cities also got COVID CARES money,” explained Starr County Judge Eloy Vera during a commissioners court meeting Monday.

Initially launching the small business grant program in August, the county commissioners voted to suspend it in September when they decided to redirect funds to their condolence program as the number of COVID-19 related deaths continued to grow.

But Vera said the number of people applying for grants to cover funeral expenses was lower than expected.

“Those numbers are not coming in as we had anticipated so now we have some money left over and what we’d like to do is use up all the money that we have,” Vera told the commissioners on Monday.

The programs are funded with money the county received through the coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress earlier this year. However, the funds are being disbursed by the state for small counties like Starr.

The funds, though, come with a deadline. The county has until December to spend the funds or lose it to the state.