Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL INFORMATION

What is the Back to Business Grant Program?

On May 20, 2020, Governor Tate Reeves signed Senate Bill 2772 into law, establishing the Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program. The Program will be used to award grants to Mississippi small businesses to assist their recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19 by reimbursing them for the costs of their business interruption.

Is there any cost to me associated with the grant?

No.

Who can I contact for questions regarding the application and subsequent process?

1-800-462-9980

Where did the funding come from?

Mississippi received $1.25 billion in CARES Act funds. Mississippi has allocated $240 million of those funds to be distributed to Mississippi’s small businesses through the Back to Business Grant Program.

How long will the program last?

November 1, 2020, or until the $240 million allocated is exhausted.

How many businesses will receive the funds?

This is undeterminable as each applying business will be eligible for a varying amount. The Mississippi Development Authority will continue to award grants until the funds are exhausted.

Do I owe taxes on this grant?

The grants are not subject to Mississippi taxes; however, eligible expenses for which grants are received may not be itemized as tax deductions.  Please contact a tax professional regarding federal tax treatment of the grant.

What information do I need to apply?

  1. Business name as registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State, if registered
  2. DBA or tradename (if applicable)
  3. Type of business entity
  4. Date of formation/creation
  5. Business address
  6. Taxpayer ID number
  7. Mississippi Secretary of State ID Number, if applicable
  8. Business phone number
  9. Primary contact
  10. Email Address
  11. Tax Return, if formed before January 1, 2020, or Schedule C
  12. Number of full-time equivalent employees as of March 1, 2020
  13. Details of impact of COVID-19 on the business
  14. Information on every Controlling Owner
  15. Information related to Minority Business Enterprise status, if applicable
  16. Information on whether the business has received other COVID-19 related funds
  17. Selection of grant award method.

A more-detailed list can be found at Back to Business Mississippi Rules and Regulations.

What documentation do I need to apply?

It depends on the type business you have. As applicable, documents needed include:
  1. Certificate of good standing from the Mississippi Secretary of State
  2. Utility bills
  3. Business licenses
  4. Tax records
  5. Certified payroll for the week of March 1, 2020
  6. Documentation showing expenses incurred due to business interruption due to COVID-19.
A more-detailed list can be found at Back to Business Mississippi Rules and Regulations.

Where can I find my Mississippi Secretary of State ID Number?

What if I do not have all necessary documentation?

In order to be considered for the grant, you must submit all required documents.

Are there funds designated for minority businesses?

Yes, at least $40,000,000.00 in program funds are reserved for awards to Eligible Businesses constituting Minority Business Enterprises, which includes women and racial minorities, during the first sixty days of the Application period.

Does a business have to be certified as “woman owned” or “minority owned” with the Mississippi Development Authority to apply?

No.

What expenses may I include for my utility expenses?

Utility expenses include electricity, gas, television, internet, telephone, water, and sewage.

ELIGIBILITY

Are there eligibility requirements?

Yes. Your business must meet the following requirements:
  1. Must be a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership or sole proprietorship
  2. Was domestic as of March 1, 2020
  3. Is in good standing with the Mississippi Secretary of State, if applicable
  4. Suffered an interruption of business
  5. Has a controlling interest owned by one or more Mississippi residents, whether individual resident citizens or Mississippi domestic business entities
  6. Filed Mississippi taxes for tax year 2018 or 2019, or, for an eligible business formed on or after January 1, 2020, intends to file Mississippi taxes for tax year 2020, unless exempt under Section 27-7-29, Section 27-13-63 or other applicable provision of law
  7. Has customers or employees coming to its physical premises, conducts business on customer premises, or has an owner who is an active participant in the day-to-day operations of the business
  8. Had no more than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees as of March 1, 2020
  9. Is not a subsidiary of a business with more than 50 FTEs; is not part of a larger business enterprise with more than 50 FTEs and is not owned by a business with more than 50 FTEs
  10. Does not exist for the purpose of advancing partisan political activities, does not directly lobby federal or state officials as provided in Sections 5-8-1 through 5-8-23, and has not employed or otherwise worked with a lobbyist as defined in Section 5-8-3 in any way at any point during 2020
  11. Does not derive income from passive investments without active participation in business operations

Does a business have to be registered with the Secretary of State in order to apply?

Corporations, LLCs and certain partnerships must be registered to apply.

Are non-profits eligible to apply?

No.

Are religious-based businesses eligible to apply?

Yes, if your business meets all eligibility requirements.

Are franchises eligible to apply?

Yes, if your business meets all eligibility requirements.

Are sole proprietors eligible to apply?

Yes, if the business meets the definition of “domestic” as set forth in the regulations and meets all other eligibility requirements.

Are businesses that operate in more than one state eligible to apply?

Yes. You may apply for up to $25,000 from the Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program.

Are businesses that operate in Mississippi but have out of state owners eligible to apply?

Yes, if a Mississippi resident owns a controlling interest in the business, and all other eligibility requirements are met.

If I am the only employee of my business, can I apply?

Yes, if your business meets all eligibility requirements.

Can I apply more than once for the same business?

No. Each business can only apply and only be awarded once.

If I own more than one business, can I apply for each?

Yes, if the business you are applying for is not a subsidiary of a business with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees, is not part of a larger business enterprise with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees and is not owned by a business with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees, and your business meets all other eligibility requirements. Please note that you must complete a different application for each business.

Do I have to have a certain number of employees to apply?

No minimum number of employees is required. You must have had 50 or less full-time equivalent employees on March 1, 2020.

How do I determine how many “full-time equivalent employees” my business had on March 1, 2020?

First, identify your employees on March 1, 2020. Next, follow these steps:

Step 1. Count the number of those people who averaged at least 30 weekly paid hours, whether actually worked or paid leave, in work weeks prior to March 1, 2020.  You may choose any representative period of at least 26 prior, consecutive weeks to determine the average, but you must use the same such period for everyone.  If your business has been in existence for less than 26 weeks before March 1, 2020, you may use all prior weeks in which the business had payroll expenses. 

Step 2. Using the same representative period, total the hours of service of all your employees who did not average at least 30 weekly hours of service in work weeks prior to March 1, 2020.  Divide that total by 30. This will provide the full-time equivalent of your part-time employees.

Step 3. Add the results of Step 1 and Step 2, rounding any fraction down to the nearest whole number.  The result is the number of “full-time equivalent employees” your business had on March 1, 2020.

How do I determine whether my business is, or is not, “a part of a larger business enterprise with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees”?

In three situations, those employed by smaller, affiliated employers will be aggregated to determine whether the larger enterprise has more than 50 full-time equivalent employees.

  1. All employees of all corporations which are members of a controlled group of corporations (within the meaning of Internal Revenue Code §1563(a), determined without regard to section 1563(a)(4) and (e)(3)(C)) are treated as employed by a single employer.
  2. All employees of trades or businesses (whether or not incorporated) which are under common control are treated as employed by a single employer.
  3. All employees of the members of an affiliated service group are treated as employed by a single employer.

If I had to lay off employees due to COVID-19, do I count my employee numbers now or at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic?

You count your employees on March 1, 2020.

Do independent contractors count toward my employee numbers?

No; however, any temporary employee from a third-party staffing service must be included in the count.

If I received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan or other COVID-19 related relief, am I eligible to apply?

Yes, a business may still apply if it received money from the U.S. Small Business Administration Guaranty Paycheck Protection Program or U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance; however, the Mississippi Development Authority will not consider these applications for the first 21 days of the Program.

If I just started a new business, am I eligible to apply?

Yes, if you have customers or employees coming to your physical premises, conduct business on customer premises, or have an owner who is an active participant in the day-to-day operations of the business, and you meet all other eligibility requirements.

If I operate my business out of my home, am I eligible to apply?

Yes, if you have customers or employees coming to your physical premises, conduct business on customer premises, or have an owner who is an active participant in the day-to-day operations of the business, and you meet all other eligibility requirements.

 

APPLICATION PROCESS

What is the application period and deadline?

Currently, there is no application deadline; however, the Program will end on November 1, 2020, or when funds are exhausted.  MDA will notify the public through the Program website of the establishment of an application deadline or the exhaustion of funds.

How can I apply?

Go to backtobusiness.mississippi.org to create a username and password and complete an application.

Can I save my progress and return to the application?

Yes.

Can I submit my application via regular mail or email?

No. At this time, the program is only accepting applications through the Back to Business Mississippi website, unless the applicant is disabled.

I am applying via my smart phone/mobile device. Am I able to upload documents?

Yes. If necessary, you can take photos of your documentation and upload the photos.

I need to add an item or document to my application. Is there a way to amend or correct an application?

Back to Business MS is working on a process whereby applicants can amend their applications until the review process starts. In the meantime, you can email B2BMSHelp@bethegeek.com and describe your requested edits to the application.

CALCULATING AND RECEIVING FUNDS

How will I receive my funds (i.e. check or direct deposit)?

Grant funds will be disbursed by check and sent via mail to the physical address provided in the application.

Will these funds be issued to me as a loan or a grant?

Grant.

Do I have to repay these funds?

No, unless it is determined the information contained within the application was false, fraudulent, or materially misleading.

How much can I apply for?

Applicant must elect one of three methods to determine the grant award (base payment, base payment with full-time equivalent employee calculation, or base payment with Itemizing Eligible Expenses).

  1. May apply and be awarded a base payment of $1,500.00
  2. May apply and be awarded a base payment plus $500 per full-time equivalent employee employed as of March 1, 2020, not to exceed $25,000.00 total
  3. May apply and be awarded a base payment plus payment to cover itemized eligible expenses on the Application, not to exceed $25,000.00 total.

What expenses can be used to calculate grant eligibility?

Eligible expenses include those costs incurred by the business to meet public health requirements or recommendations enacted, adopted, required, or issued by the Mississippi Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, state or federal regulatory authorities, and/or local, state or federal executive authorities due to COVID-19. This includes:

  1. Costs to create social distancing measures
  2. Costs to clean or disinfect areas due to COVID-19
  3. Purchasing personal protective equipment for employees or customers
  4. Contactless equipment
  5. Equipment, items or other expenses to screen employees or customers to ensure they are not positive for COVID-19
  6. Equipment or items designed to track employees or customers who have tested positive for COVID-19
  7. Necessary re-opening expenses
  8. Expenses to facilitate teleworking

Eligible Expenses due to Business Interruption, which are only allowed for a two month period, include:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Rent
  • Payroll
  • Utilities

What are specific examples of eligible expenses incurred to meet public health requirements?

These expenses include: personal protective equipment, signage pertaining to reopening or restructuring business due to COVID-19, partitions for point of sale, installation of drive-thru windows and items necessary to get a drive-thru operational, smooth surface furniture, hard surface flooring, pressure washer, teleworking equipment and related subscription services, takeout/to-go merchandise,  outdoor seating, contactless equipment for doors, locks, gates and point of sale systems, carpet cleaning, paper towels, cleaning solutions, mops, iPads, hanging menus, payment of third party license medical staff to perform testing, and thermometers.

If applying for the grant to cover itemized expenses, what documentation do I need in order to support my request?

Itemized expense documentation could include: copy of mortgage statement, copy of lease agreement, copy of paid utility bills, lease payment receipts for real or personal property, payroll reports, bank or credit card statements, invoices, purchase orders, and receipts for safety improvements or PPE.

What expenses cannot be used to calculate grant eligibility?

Ineligible expenses include:

  1. Lost Profits
  2. Damages that have been or will be covered by insurance
  3. Costs that have been or will be reimbursed by any other federal or state program
  4. Reimbursement for donated items or services
  5. Workforce bonuses other than hazard pay or overtime
  6. Severance pay
  7. Legal settlements
  8. Other costs deemed ineligible expenses under relevant law or guidelines

Is there a minimum grant amount?

$1,500.00.

Is there a maximum grant amount?

$25,000.00.

How do you determine how much I receive?

The amount requested will be calculated, pursuant to the Act and federal and state law.

Will my receipt of other COVID-19 relief affect the amount I receive under the Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program?

Yes, the grant payment will be reduced by the amount of any Mississippi Department of Revenue COVID-19 Relief Payment Program funds, PPP funds, EIDL Emergency Advance funds, and business interruption insurance proceeds received by the business.

If I received the $2,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Revenue COVID-19 Relief Payment Program funds, am I eligible to apply?

Yes, but any award received will be reduced by that $2,000 award.

Do I need to document or report how I use the funds I receive?

Yes. By accepting the grant funds you agree to be subject to an audit.

REVIEW PROCESS

Can I monitor the status of my application?

Yes. You may enter your login information on the application website to check the status of your application.

When can I expect an answer?

You will be notified following a full review of your application and accompanying documentation. Please understand that timing of a decision depends on whether you received PPP, EIDL or insurance proceeds, current demand, and the quality and accuracy of information provided.

How will I be notified that I will receive a grant?

You will be notified via email.

Can I appeal or contest a decision?

Yes, an applicant may appeal an award or disqualification by notifying the Mississippi Development Authority within 20 days of notice of a decision. 

Appeals must be written and state with specificity the basis for the Applicant’s disagreement with the decision. Appeals are determined solely on the information submitted during the application period. The appeal must address the grounds provided for the award or the MDA’s disqualification notice. Furthermore, the appeal must provide copies of all documents, records, papers or other information to support the appeal. In addition, all appeals must be dated and contain the Applicant’s name and the name of the authorized Applicant’s representative.

To be accepted, the written appeal must be delivered by one of two methods:

By U.S. mail to the following address:

Mississippi Development Authority

Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program: Appeals
P.O. Box 849
Jackson, MS 39205

Or by courier mail or hand delivery to the following:

Mississippi Development Authority
Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program: Appeals
501 North West Street
Jackson, MS 39201