Small Business Utility Grants

The City of Lincoln is Offering Small Businesses Utility Grants.

Grants are available for small businesses in Lincoln with 50 or fewer employees that operate in a Qualified Census Tract. Small businesses may apply for up to a year of their average electric and water expenses.

A total of $1.5 million dollars will be made available for small businesses.

Grant awards will be made on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds are available from the American Rescue Plan and small businesses must meet federal requirements. Fraudulent documentation or activity will not be tolerated and will be subject to relevant legal actions and consequences.

Program Purpose

The purpose of this program is to provide assistance to small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. The program will provide utility payments to assist small businesses in stabilizing and growing business operations and employment as well as to recover from pandemic losses.

Grant Program Benefits

Qualifying small businesses may apply for up to a year of electric and water expenses. Applicants may apply for an amount equal to or less than the total of their electric and water bills from September 2021 through August 2022.

The total amount for any business will be based on the current electric and water invoices. The grant award will be made directly to Lincoln Electric System and Lincoln Water System on behalf of the business.

If your small business pays utilities through your landlord you must complete the Utility Agreement Letter(PDF, 884KB) and the grant payment will be made directly to your landlord.

Eligibility Requirements

Businesses must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Businesses must be for-profit, independently operated businesses with 50 or fewer employees. A sole proprietorship may qualify.
  • Applicants must have a physical location doing business in a Qualified Census Tract in the City of Lincoln. Please check to see if your address is located in a Qualified Tract. (You will enter your business address and then click “Color QCT Qualified Tracts” on the left-hand side.)
  • Businesses can not have received the City’s Small Business Stabilization Grant for rent or mortgage.
  • Businesses must have been in operation prior to February 29, 2020.
  • Businesses must provide all necessary documentation.

How to Apply

Apply Now

Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. You will receive a confirmation of receipt of your application. The process will take several weeks. This application is designed to work best on a desktop device and you may experience challenges if you work from a mobile device.

Business owners must provide:

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility

What does it mean to have a physical location doing business in a Qualified Census Tract in the City of Lincoln?

This means a physical location that is open for business in Lincoln City limits which is also located in a Qualified Census Tract. Please check to see if your address is located in a Qualified Tract. (You will enter your business address and then click “Color QCT Qualified Tracts” on the left-hand side.)

 

Is the number of employees based on full time equivalent employees?

No, it is based on the number of employees total, per the Small Business Administration definition. Every person that works for your business is counted as “1” person no matter how many hours they work.

Can a franchise qualify?

Yes, if they are independently owned and operated.

Can new businesses apply?

No, this assistance is intended to provide relief for businesses that experienced a negative economic impact due to the pandemic and existed prior to February 29, 2020, consistent with Small Business Administration programs.

What if I think I qualify but I have a special circumstance?

Applications may be reviewed on a case by case basis for compliance with the American Rescue Plan and the small businesses utility program guidelines.

What if I share space with another business?

Each business should have an independent business address. This may mean an independent suite number or a shared address with a separate business title corresponding with their Secretary of State filing.

Can new businesses apply?

No, this assistance is intended to provide relief for businesses that experienced a negative economic impact due to the pandemic and existed prior to February 29, 2020, consistent with Small Business Administration programs.

How will you verify the business eligibility?

We will review all of the documentation submitted in your application and cross-check that with the Secretary of State’s information, the Lancaster County Assessor’s office, and ensure that the funds requested meet the threshold of a year of average water and electric bills.

What unique circumstances make it difficult to determine whether or not my business meets eligibility requirements?
The program will not make eligibility predeterminations. Businesses in unique circumstances are encouraged to apply and provide the documentation available in order to work with program staff and receive an eligibility determination.
Am I eligible if I rent a chair in a business such as a hairdresser, barber, or workspace?

No. To meet the eligibility requirements you must show that your business rents a business space and that you pay utilities for that space.

What if I am a recently established business?

You must have been conducting business prior to March 1, 2020 to qualify. Conducting business may vary based on the individual circumstances. Recently established businesses are encouraged to apply and determinations will be made based on Small Business Administration guidelines.

 

 

  

Benefits

Does this need to be paid back?

No. It is a grant.

Is this assistance considered income for taxable purposes?

You should consult your tax accountant.

Can we apply for back-due utilities?

No. The purpose of this program is to stabilize businesses. If back due utilities are owed, the business owner could use the utility assistance period to pay off debts owed with revenue freed up by the utility assistance payment.

 

 

Documentation

What if I’m not sure about the future of my business?

In order to apply, you must agree to maintain business operations at the same location for the period for which you receive assistance per attestation.

What if I don’t have everything?

The City of Lincoln requires documentation to prove compliance with federal rules and regulations.

What document format should be used?

Documents may be accepted in PDF, JPG, and PNG format.

What if I don’t have the type of utility bill requested?

The purpose of the utility bill is to demonstrate that you have an active account with Lincoln Electric System and Lincoln Water System. A utility bill should be in the name of the business and for the business location that is inside the Qualified Census Tract. If your business pays utilities through your landlord you must also supply a Utility Agreement Letter(PDF, 884KB) signed by you (the business owner) and the landlord.

 

Can I use a mobile browser to submit my application?

We encourage you to submit your application using a desktop computer