Grants for BC Small Businesses — a conversation with Minister Ravi Kahlon

The Hon. Ravi Kahlon, British Columbia’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation, chatted with BC Rural Centre Communications Director Randy Morse recently. The conversation focused on Covid-19, its impact on small and medium-sized businesses, and steps the BC Government is taking to help those most affected, cope.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses across British Columbia. While there has been considerable improvement since last March, that improvement has been uneven, with many small and medium-sized businesses in the province remaining in very tough shape.

This is true of businesses in sectors ranging from tourism to restaurants — and it is generally true for many businesses of all types in rural, remote, and First Nations BC.

In the face of this situation, the Government of BC has launched two programs intended to support BC businesses hard-it by the virus.

The first, the Small & Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant, makes up to $30,000 available for eligible businesses, with up to an additional $15,000 for tourism-related operators.

“Things have improved considerably,” said Minister Kahlon. “Some businesses are doing very well, in fact some are doing way better than they did before the pandemic, and some are really struggling,” he added.

When asked to speak to the Recovery Grant, the Minister replied, “I would say to everyone right off the top, please, apply, money is available, and we want to help as many small businesses as possible.”

He went on to explain that the Recovery Grant’s application criteria have been streamlined and simplified, making it considerably easier to apply. Minister Kahlon emphasized that, “This is not a loan. You do not have to pay this back. This is a grant, a direct support that goes to businesses — it does not need to be paid back.”

The Recovery Grant is specifically for small businesses, from sole proprietors to businesses with up to 149 employees. Qualifying businesses must be able to show at least a 30% drop in revenue from the previous year, and have been in business for at least 18 months.

The conversation then turned to a second initiative, the Launch Online Program.

“… It’s a great program,” said the Minister. “It provides up to $7,500, 75 percent of the total costs for businesses to create a website, to set up their e-commerce, to be able to market their business online, to have the dollars to buy images… whatever is required to get your business online. We know that the changes we thought were going to happen over 10 years, the pandemic has pushed to one. The change to online, the change to digital has happened so fast, we wanted to be able to support small and medium-sized businesses in that transition — and this program was our first step in that direction.”

To listen to the entire conversation with Minister Kahlon, click on the podcast link below.